Maccabi Tel Aviv used a 20-6 4th quarter run to defeat Buducnost in Montenegro 78-68 as Scottie Wilbekin led the way with 28 points going 6/11 from beyond the arc. Michael Roll scored 12 points, Tarik Black added 10 points while Angelo Caloiaro chipped in with 7 huge final frame points to help the Yellow & Blue to the win. Edwin Jackson with 13 points and Alen Omic and Nemanja Gordic each had 12 points a piece in the defeat.
Buducnost came ready to play as they looked to record their first Euroleague win and jumped out to a 16-14 lead after ten minutes of play thanks to 9 points by Scottie Wilbekin. However, Edwin Jackson matched the Maccabi guard’s first quarter performance with 11 points of his own in the second frame to give the host’s a 41-34 advantage at halftime.
Former Hapoel Jerusalem big man Alen Omic was the center of attention in the 3rd quarter as he scored 10 points for Buducnost, but Wilbekin added 14 points in the frame to cut the lead to 62-58 with ten minutes to go. And that’s when Coach Neven Spahija’s crew put down the hammer, literally as Tarik Black’s monster dunk gave Maccabi a 64-62 advantage and Angelo Caloiaro clutch shooting made sure that the Yellow & Blue never never looked back to take the 78-68 victory.
1) When the chips were down after a miserable half and a not so great third quarter, Maccabi picked themselves up and showed huge character to take the win as they sliced and diced Buducnost in the final frame. With less than a minute left, Maccabi had held the host’s to just 2 points, quite impressive considering the Yellow & Blue had a super tough and physical game two days ago at home against CSKA. Neven Spahija needed this win; it was a MUST WIN. Any which way you sliced it, Maccabi had to win the game and they did via some killer defense late as Spahija explained, “We played an excellent second half especially the last quarter. Very impressive. It was difficult to play after the CSKA game and it took a lot of energy for us. At the end we found the right lineup and energy to win the game.”
1) DeAndre Kane, Angelo Caloiaro and Tarik Black were very important in the win. Kane scored 7 points, grabbed 8 rebounds, dished out 6 assists, blocked one shot and drew 8(!) fouls. Not bad, not bad at all. Caloiaro drained a massive 3-pointer to stretch Maccabi’s lead to 67-62 that allowed them to never look back while he also posed following the trey, while Black had a major dunk to break the 62-62 deadlock. Kane spoke about the keys to the win, “A lot of effort, hard work and team work. We started out a little slow but we came through in the second half and held them to 27 points. I think it was a great team effort on defense and we made a lot of good effort plays on offense to give us the win.” Caloiaro also commented on the comeback win, “In the second half we came out and played great defense and we held them to 27 points. That’s what turned it around for us. It was a win and we needed one so that was big for us.” They needed the win for sure because next week a trip to Olympiacos and David Blatt is on tap.
3) No offense to the 3 players just mentioned but above all, Scottie Wilbekin was the star of the show with 28 points his Euroleague high, going 6/11 from downtown and adding 5 assists. Wilbekin kept Maccabi in the game after a miserable first quarter and came out strong after halftime and dropped 14 points to keep the Yellow & Blue close and in the ballgame. Wilbekin was able to create points pit of nothing time and time again and that something that Maccabi was missing for the last number of seasons. At halftime Wilbekin was Interviewed but the Euroleague and said twice, “We’ve got to play better.” And play better they did. Following the game the star guard said, “It was a tough and hard game. Their fans were great but we pulled it off. We didn’t have a good first half and we were frustrated as a team, but we pulled it together.”
Alen Omic. Yep that Alen Omic who played for Hapoel Jerusalem over the course of last season was on the floor for Buducnost scoring ten points in the 3rd quarter for the host’s. Other than that he pulled down 7 boards and was emotional as ever. It was interesting to see him on the court once again as he is always an entertaining character and Basketball can certainly use more of these characters. They add fun and excitement to the game.
1) After only recording 5 assists in the first half Maccabi dished out more than double that with 12 in the second half. Buducnost bottled up Spahija’s side in the first half but there were able to get out of the funk to get things going after the break.
2) John Dibartolomeo drained an important 3-pointer and played a shade over 8 minutes in the win. John D will need to continue to get playing time in continental action in order for him to improve in the top European competition and there’s no reason why he shouldn’t be able to.
3) Alex Tyus and Johnny O’Bryant haven’t had fun in Euroleague action so far but tonight they both looked to be breaking out of their funk and Maccabi is going to need them. 7 and 4 points respectively is a good start and they both looked involved which is exactly what Spahija wants to see as he will need everyone on this roster as the season continues on.
4) Edwin Jackson came into the game and did nothing other than score, score and score. He scored 11 points in the 2nd quarter when he drilled three pointer after three pointer. A wily veteran.