Maccabi Tel Aviv demolished Olympiacos 90-65 in Pireaus in Euroleague Gameday 6 action for their fourth win in a row. The host’s got off to a hot start thanks to Vassilis Spanoulis but the Yellow & Blue clamped down on defense and blew open the game in the second half holding Olympiacos to just 25 points over 20 minutes. Tyler Dorsey and Scottie Wilbekin led the way for Coach Ioannis Sfairopoulos’s squad with 19 points a piece as both hit four triples for good measure. Nate Wolters added 10 points while Quincy Acy had his best game so far in the young season with 8 points and 8 rebounds. Georgios Printezis led the Reds with 16 points as Brandon Paul chipped in with 12 points in the loss.
1) Defense, Defense, Defense. That seems to be the name of the game for Maccabi as the Yellow & Blue have bought into Sfairpoulos’s mantra. Defense as they say is the best offense and there’s no question that by playing suffocating D, Maccabi is also taking advantage of the offensive benefits that is provides. Quincy Acy certainly has bought in to what his team needs to do to dominate and win, “Great overall defense. Coach has been emphasizing that and we played a great team game. Defense is the key and everyone is buying in.” The captain John DiBartolomeo also spoke about the importance of playing good defense, “We stepped up defensively but we also came out and dictated the game from the beginning which was extremely important for us.” Coach Sfairopoulos understands why defense is that way to win games, “It’s our goal to start from good defense and to take advantage of our good defense offensively. I think they performed really well on both sides of the court. It’s not just the transition points and the points we scored from turnovers.”
2) Maccabi swept a Euroleague double round and that’s good news. They haven’t done that in a while according to one of the stars of the show Scottie Wilbekin, “Huge to get two wins in a back to back and we didn’t do that all last year. Both teams were tired but this was big for us. We have a long season ahead but I like our progress so far.” The two wins have now given Maccabi four wins in a row as the club moved into fourth place with a 4-2 record. Winning is addictive and the Yellow & Blue have been doing plenty of that lately and that’s because of the commitment each player has made to the cause explained Sfaipoulos, “I think our players were really committed today. We played with great energy and you saw everyone who came off the bench helped the team to play and the energy that we played the whole game. We allowed just 25 points in the second half and that was the big difference we had.”
3) Tyler Dorsey had been an enigma up until he was finally registered for the Israeli league last week when Maccabi hosted Hapoel Jerusalem. No one was sure what he could do and Caoch Sfaiopoulos had some choice words for him after the Valencia game in which he publicly criticized his guard. Yet 48 hours later he was registered to play and 24 hours after that he starred in the win over the capital city reds. Dorsey played with confidence in the home win over Fenerbahce and bang he gives a performance for the ages in Greece. It looks like the former NBA guard is on the right track and is going to be a critical piece in the Yellow & Blue puzzle. Dorsey spoke about the game that was, “Defensively we struggled in the second quarter but we stepped it up in the third quarter and we got a lot of buckets on the transition. I’ve been struggling a little bit but I’ve got it going and I have to stay confident as does the team.”
WOW! That was quite the week for Maccabi Tel Aviv. A dominant win over Hapoel Jerusalem, arguably their biggest rival in the Israeli league. Then a terrific victory over struggling Fenerbahce, however any team with the star studded lineup that Coach Zeljko Obradovic should never even be described as struggling with the likes of Jan Vesely, Nando De Colo, Derrick Williams, Gigi Datome etc… And then a demolition of Olympiacos in Greece where Coach Sfairopoulos had manned the sidelines for four seasons. This week Maccabi has Nahariya and Alba Berlin at home then a State Cup game in Eilat which will then be followed up by three very difficult road Euroleague clashes; at Baskonia, Milano and Barcelona. Now that’s quite the trifecta! Busy times ahead and the Yellow & Blue couldn’t be in better shape to make their mark early and often with Sfairopoulos at the helm.