Maccabi Tel Aviv needed a Chanukah miracle as they escaped Istanbul with a 73-71 victory over Darusasfaka to improve their Euroleague record to 3-8 keeping their continental season alive. Yovel Zoosman had the game saving block on Ray MaCallum as time wound down to secure the win. Scottie Wilbekin ended the night with 11 points and three huge triples in the final frame, John DiBratolomeo off the bench led the Yellow & Blue scorers with 13 points while Jonny O’Bryant chipped in with a double double of 12 points an 14 rebounds. The host’s saw Michael Eric drop 20 points while new addition Toney Douglas added 14 points in the loss.
The Yellow & Blue couldn’t get out of neutral in the first quarter until O’Bryant scored 7 straight points to end the frame at 17-17. Maccabi continued to struggle on the offensive side of the game in they second quarter as Darrussafaka took a 42-36 advantage into halftime.
The third quarter saw the host’s extend their lead as Douglas and Eric led the way to a 62-51 lead after thirty minutes. However, the 4th quarter was all Maccabi as Wilbekin drilled home three 3-pointers, DiBartolomeo had clutch buckets, Caloiaro scored his only field goal of the game as time wound down and Zoosman had the game saving block on Ray MaCallum to take home the 73-71 win.
1) WOW! The Great Escape! When I was a child I used to go to an amusement park near Lake George and Glens Falls, New York called The Great Escape, and that’s what it was, a fun time and an escape from reality. Maccabi’s reality for 30 minutes was for all intents and purposes the end of their Euroelague campaign but some how they kept the dream alive with that great escape in the final ten minutes outscoring Darussafaka 22-9 to snatch the victory from the jaws of defeat. After sleep walking through three quarters, Scottie Wilbekin woke up and drained three triples, none bigger than his last one to give Maccabi the winning points over his former team. The guard admittedly had a brutal game up until money time, “I was out of it and couldn’t find a rhythm. When I got the offensive foul it got me going a bit.” But really it’s credit to all of the players for playing the full forty minutes and that’s what Coach Ioannis Sfairopoulos noted in his post game comments, “The most important thing is that we never gave up and fought until the end. Unfortunately, we didn’t perform well in the first 3 periods. But we had a good effort in the 4th quarter and came back into the game. In the end we deserved to win.” The coach continued, “This win is a big win and belongs to the players, they deserve this type of win and they were the protagonists on the court. We are Maccabi and we will fight until the end.”
2) With two wins in a row, Maccabi will look to take a third next week at home against Baskonia and continue to build on the positive momentum. “We now have two wins in a row after the start that we had. I feel that we are going in the right direction,” Wilbekin said post game. O’Bryant echoed his teammate’s thoughts, “We showed are toughness, stuck together and pulled it out. We need to string some wins together to get things going. We dug kind of a big hole but overall everyone is in a great place. Coach is staying on us so we’re ready to continue to move forward.” I’m sure Sfairopoulos is staying on top of them, because he knows full well that a loss to 1-9 Darussafaka would have been disastrous.
3) Maccabi has got to keep on winning if they have any designs of a playoff spot. The Yellow & Blue host Baskonia this week and then welcome an Alexey Shved-less Khimki to Tel Aviv. After that they head to Zalgiris which will be as aways a very, very tough game. Maccabi needs to go into Lithuania with a 5-8 record and they are all aware of that. But the key to get to that point will be hard work and if they don’t they will be in big trouble. They may be headed in the right direction and building confidence, but both Baskonia and Khimki will punish them with a big L if they will play the first 30 minutes as they did against Darussafaka and believe me, they know it.
Maccabi always seem to allow a guard to carve them up, especially one that just signed with a team and barely completed one practice. That was Toney Douglas. 14 points for the veteran. But over the final quarter Maccabi clamped down and #23 couldn’t buy a bucket as it was his shot that Tarik Black blocked which led to Wilbekin’s 3-pointer giving Maccabi a 73-68 lead and never looked back.
* Maccabi had 5 players in double figures, DiBartolomeo, O’Bryant, Wilbekin, Black and Kendrick Ray.
* Black had 5 blocks to go with 10 points and 8 rebounds.
* Ray had a good showing night going 4/7 with a pair of 3’s.
* After scoring the opening basket of the game, Wilbekin was silent until his 3 pointer outburst in the 4th.
* Maccabi won the battle on the boards 50-37 with 15 offensive rebounds but only had 11 assists compared to Darussafaka’s 21.
* Caloiaro went 1/1 from the field in close to 25 minutes on the court, but his bucket gave Maccabi a 70-68 lead on the way to the win.
* Maccabi went 10/22 from 3-point land with 6 coming in the 4th quarter.
* Scottie Wilbekin was honored by Darussafaka before the game for helping the team win the EuroCup last season.