Maccabi Tel Aviv defeated Real Madrid 90-83 in a stellar matchup at Yad Eliyahu as the Yellow & Blue moved to 4-2 in Euroleague action. After a rough opening ten minutes that saw the hosts fall behind by 8 points, 30-22, Neven Spahija’s squad came back to grab a 47-42 lead at the half thanks to Michael Roll’s 12 points. Madrid took a 2 point lead into the final frame up 66-64, but a strong 4th quarter by Alex Tyus with 9 points were able to overcome a 7 point play (4 free throws and a 3-pointer) by Luka Doncic with 5 minutes to go to take home the hard fought victory. Deshaun Thomas scored 21 points, Roll dropped 16 as Tyus added 14 points and 7 rebounds for Maccabi as Doncic ended the night with 19 points while Anthony Randolph chipped in with 13 points and 9 boards.
1) 7’s are wild. Real Madrid’s young superstar Luka Doncic wears the 7 jersey who completed a 7-point play and was guarded like glue paper by Deandre Kane who did an amazing defensive job on the potential number one pick in the upcoming NBA Draft. With the score 74-69 for Maccabi, Norris Cole fouled Doncic while in the act of shooting from beyond the arc good for 3 throws from the charity stripe. Spahija in shock told the referees what he thought of the fouls and was hit with a technical for a 4th free throw. With ice in his veins, 20NBA scouts lookigpng on intently and being mercifully booed by the Yellow & Blue faithful, Real’s number 7 drained all 4 shots to draw within in one point, 74-73 and then followed that up with a 3-pointer to take a 76-74 lead. But what did Maccabi do? They stuck together, didn’t break and were mentally strong as Tyus scored 7 of his 14 points over the last 4:30 minutes to help the hosts to the win. Head Coach Neven Spahija discussed the play at the post game press conference, “I may have overreacted. As an experienced coach I can’t put myself in the situation. The mental aspects of my players. That’s what won the game. We trust each other and stay together. When it happened they gathered together. Mental toughness and effort won this.”
2) The players all spoke about how they made sure to stay calm, cool and collected after the 7-point play and quickly make us the points to take the lead and then the win. Deshaun Thomas: “We are not going to give up and fall down after a mistake. Once they got the 7 points in a row we kept our composure and we fought.” Alex Tyus added: “That made us stronger. We didn’t want questionable calls to hurt us. We stayed focused and kept our composure.” Jake Cohen thanked the fans for making the difference: “Incredible atmosphere. The fans were right back with us after the 7 point play and they were a huge reason for our energy level. You just do your job and focus on the little things and execute one thing at a time. You can’t think of the past you have to look forward. We went back down the floor and we executed and got a bucket. That’s a great testament to our team.” If you’re a Maccabi fan, could you want any more from the players on your team? What a group of guys. What an amazing group of guys.
3) Luka Doncic will be one of the top picks in the 2018 NBA Draft for sure and his 19 points an execution of the 7-point play will only raise his stock. He is mature beyond his age, he is a mentsch in the true sense of the word and he’s already a star. Doncic may have gotten his 19 points and finished with a 30 Performance Index Rating but Maccabi’s #7 Deandre Kane did a spectacular job clamping him down as the budding star went only 5/14 from the field. It’s fascinating that one can’t find the work he did on the stat sheet but his defensive effort was one for the ages. Spahija commented on Kane’s display: “We tried to change more players on their offensive players and Kane did a really good job. Some players sacrifice for others. He didn’t score like he did against Milano, but he shared the ball and had a very smart decision in the front court and I liked how he played.”
There is an incredible amount of balance on the team with players who are all for one and one for all. The players recognize their roles and have bought into Spahija and his philosophy. They have the ultimate respect for the man on the sidelines who runs a nearly flawless game while also giving his assistants, especially Guy Goodes plenty of liberty to do what needs to be done in order to win. Cohen spoke about the team, “I’m proud of the team group effort. Everyone did a great job and that’s why we won.” Thomas added, “We are going to play our style of ball. Maccabi Basketball. Play as a team and play hard.” Pierre Jackson also commented, “Every guy in the lockerroom hates losing. We have to play hard and everything else will fall into place.” So far everything is falling into place very, very nicely for Maccabi.
– Maccabi dominated the boards yet again with a 53-33 advantage grabbing 22(!) offensive rebounds in the process. These numbers are scary. Game after game the Yellow & Blue is continuously controlling the paint which creates second chance opportunities which have been so important in the victories. As the players echoed a couple of week ago after the loss in Belgrade, we have to work on the little things.
-What can you say about Deshaun Thomas who has been an absolute scoring machine? Sometimes you forget a player who is so quiet, humble and just goes out and does his job night in and night out. #1 scored another 21 points in yet another MVP performance. On Tuesday he gets to show his old team EFES Anadolu how he has transformed and that should be very interesting.
– Kudos to Jake Cohen, Norris Cole, Pierre Jackson, Jonah Bolden and Itay Segev, yes you read right Itay Segev for all making solid contributions to the victory. The captain played important minutes in both halves and hustled like there was no tomorrow. Team work by all.
– One last 7, the amount of turnovers committed by Maccabi. When was the last time you saw a Maccabi game where they only coughed up the ball 7 times? Another amazing stat.