Maccabi Tel Aviv shocked CSKA Moscow 93-76 in Russia to move their Euroleague record to 7-11. The Yellow & Blue started off slow but picked up the pace thanks to Yovel Zoosman’s career high 15 points and 6 rebounds and ran away in the 4th quarter outscoring the host’s 29-14 to record their first win in Moscow since 2004. Johnny O’Bryant scored 14 points, Alex Tyus added 12 points and DeAndre Kane sank 10 points in the win for Maccabi while Will Clyburn and Nando de Colo each scored 16 points for CSKA.
After just 4:30 minutes into the game it looked like CSKA was going to have a field day against Maccabi as they took a 16-4 lead with Daniel Hackett and de Colo leading the way. However, Angelo Caloiaro, Michael Roll, Tarik Black and Tyus helped cut the lead to 24-22 by the end of the first quarter. Midway through the the second frame, Zoosman hit back to back triples which helped give Maccabi a 46-41 advantage after twenty minutes.
CSKA still had fight in them in the third quarter but O’Bryant and Zoosman allowed the Yellow & Blue to to stay ahead by two points 64-62 as the contest headed into the final frame. And what a final frame it would be as superb play by captain John Dibartolomeo with 8 points and Scottie Wilbekin with 5 points steered the Yellow & Blue to one of their biggest victories in recent memory.
1) WOW! WHAT. A. WIN. What else can I say! Everything clicked just perfectly for Maccabi as Coach Ioannis Sfairopoulos’s game plan and execution was nearly flawless as his squad defeated his fellow Greek rival Dimitrios Itoudis and CSKA. Let’s be honest, most of us figured Maccabi would be happy with a split in a double round Euroleague week, but instead they surprised just about everyone by sweeping both Buducnost at home and CSKA on the road. The wins in Moscow are rare and the last one came in 2004 when Anthony Parker hit a fade-away 3-pointer to give Maccabi a 83-80 win. This time the Yellow & Blue didn’t even need a last second shot as they rolled to the huge 17-point victory with a phenomenal 4th quarter display. Maccabi’s percentage from two was a staggering 75% (35/47) and that’s what led to the key win to give their Euroleague chances a boost. “We always fight for the win,” Sfairopoulos began his postgame comments. “No matter if we lose by 20 points, we fight for the win. And today I think we were very concentrated. We were in the game except the first two and a half minutes, when we allowed very easy points and I had to take a timeout to change this momentum. After that we started to play very good defense. And on offense we played really smart. The two-point percentage on offense shows that we did very good on offense. It was very important that our players keep their concentration until the end and as long as we had the lead during the game we started to believe more and more. In the end, we won the game and we deserved to win with the way that we played.”
2) Hello Yovel Zoosman! What a performance you had! 15 points on a perfect night from the field. 4/4 from 2, 2/2 from 3, 1/1 from the line. Add to that 6 rebounds, 1 assist and 2 steals and you have one heck of an evening. There has been a lot of talk that Zoos should shoot more this season and the only thing I can think of is what would have happened should he have taken 10 shots? Bottom line is the kid did great playing more than 20 minutes in his second game of the week. Number 50 spoke about the win, “I feel great. I am just happy for the win. And I want to keep moving forward. I knew [that Maccabi had not won in Moscow since 2004]. We talked about it this afternoon. We wanted to change that. We changed that today and we are happy. The last time we won here, I was a little kid and I watched the game. It’s really great.” And what did I say about the kid!
3) Alex Tyus. Amazing play once again. It’s as if Tyus has morphed into the Center we had all known and loved the past few weeks after a slow start to the season. Tyus is a pro and as a starter since Tarik Black was injured, he’s been absolutely unstoppable. Forget about the 12 points and 6 rebounds, how about the 4(!) blocks. Tyus looks as active as es ever been and in such good shape, he could probably play another 28 minutes. Things are clicking and a Tyus is the glue that’s holding it all together. “It feels great. We played really well tonight especially on the road against one of the top four team win Europe and the win means a lot as we get closer to the playoffs.”
Maccabi plays 3 of their next 4 games at home and will need massive support against Barcelona, Panathinaikos and Olympiacos at Yad Eliyahu. Those are all tricky games but winnable. Barca is playing great ball of late, Rick Pitino has changed the culture in Athens and you know who the coach of Olympiacos is, none other than David Blatt. Throw in a tough road game in Baskonia and these games will most likely determine Maccabi’s fate. Sfairopoulos certainly knows it and with win at CSKA he’s given himself a bit of air, but not too much. With a dozen games left the Yellow & Blue will need to go 9-3 to advance to the playoffs with a 16-14 record. Hard but not impossible. Will it take a lot out of the team and staff mentally and physically? Yes. Can they do it? Yes as well. But they have to play these next 4 games as if it’s their last if they have any designs on heading into the postseason.
– Maccabi committed only 7 turnovers. That’s serious discipline. Add to that 36 rebounds (11 offensive), 17 assists, 6 steals and 6 blocks and you’ve got yourself a pretty incredible performance.
– John Dibartolomeo was great again and not only did he dish out 4 first half assists he scored 8 points in the final frame. Great job!
– Johnny O’Bryant was active all night long in his 27 minutes and scored some very important points throughout the contest. He’s adjusting to European basketball very nicely and he didn’t pick up a single foul!
– However, Tarik Black was again in foul trouble with 4 in 7 minutes.
– The Israeli trio of Zoosman, Dibartolomeo and Tyus scored 35 points on the night and played their hearts out in a historic win on Russian soil. Now they’ve just got to build on it.