3-Pointers: Mike James + Will Clyburn = Winners. CSKA duo outgun Wilbekin and Maccabi in Moscow! Analysis, highlights & more!

1) Mike James=Winner. What can you say? The former Hapoel Galil Elyon man from way back when always seems to haunt Maccabi Tel Aviv and that’s what he did yet again. Sure, James was contained over the first half as he was double teamed and managed only 5 measly points. But in half number two the Portland, Oregon native lit the scoreboard up for 20 points over the final two frames while hitting almost impossible Mike James shots to win the game. With Maccabi in the lead 58-53 with 5:46 to go, James nailed a trio of triples and a pair of free throws to give CSKA a 69-64 advantage with 1:25 left effectively ending the game. James has a killer instinct that can’t be stopped and when he gets on a roll, he gets on a roll and buries any chance for the opposition to even think about taking the victory. “CSKA has experience and quality and knows how to come back,” said Ioannis Sfairopoulos following the game. “It was the first time in the game that we led by 5 points and as you saw, in the last period CSKA scored some very tough shots and it was very tough for us to come back.” James tried to deflect his heroics and spread age wealth to the rest of team not looking to take any credit, “Maccabi played good. I think it was a little bit of a slow game. There weren’t a lot of points, there was some good defense. We played good, we shared the ball, we got some open shots and we came out the win.”


2) Speaking of the rest of the team, how about another player that once upon a time played in Israel? Will Clyburn who featured for Hapoel Holon a few years bak has developed into a star and boy did that star shine bright in the last quarter alongside James. In money time, Clyburn hit one free throw after the next to the tune of six over the final five minutes plus a 3-pointer to help CSKA grab the deserved win over Maccabi. Maccabi kept the two CSKA stars at bay for the first half but it was just a matter of time until the sleeping giant would awaken. “We beat a talented team today,” said Clyburn. “It was good to come out and get a first win in the EuroLeague, especially good at home in front of our fans. It was good game.” Tyler Dorsey reflected on the final frame and Maccabi’s shortcomings, We had a bad stretch of leaving guys open in the fourth quarter, but we will learn from this. It’s still early in the season as our team continues to grow. We will look at it and we have a double week next week and we got to get back to it and back to winning. We got to find a way to win on the road the next road game.”

Maccabi Tel Aviv

3) Scottie Wilbekin was very, very quiet for a large stretch of time over the course of the game but as we saw in players like Mike James and Will Clyburn, the stars know how to shine brightest when they are needed the most and that’s exactly what the Florida product did. Sure there was a time in the game when Wilbekin was 1/10 from downtown (gulp!) but he went 3/5 from deep down the stretch to give Maccabi the short lived lead and keeping his team in the game to the dying seconds. Wilbekin ended the night with 20 points, 5 assists and 4 rebounds for an efficiency rating of 20 but it wasn’t going to be enough to take the win. Coach Sfairopoulos spoke about keeping the game within reach despite both teams having trouble getting into the flow of the game, “It was a close game, a game that it was obvious it’ll be close at the end. I think both teams couldn’t establish their rhythm in the game, in the beginning, in the second and third periods.”


Maccabi’s two headed monster of Ante Zizic and Dragan Bender took a bit of time to get into the game, but once they did, especially in the second the pair looked very, very good. Lethal in fact as Zizic and Bender looked to be a formidable duo. They both continued to dust off the rust as time went by and became much more active as the clock continued to tick. The pair kept finding the basket inside and once they got the hang of it their defense began to show as well. Zizic played 23:28 and Bender 23:29 which is pretty amazing for both as they hadn’t plowed competitive basketball since the winter. Last week Sfairopoulos said that it would take Bender some time until he was in prime shape but that didn’t stop the bench boss from giving him over 20 minutes. I doubt that was in the original game plan but with Hunter in very early foul trouble and Oz Blayzer also picking up a very quick 3 fouls, Sfairopoulos had little choice. “Tough game,” Bender said. “We played good but missed some details that cost us the game in the end. We are just trying to find our rhythm and team chemistry and played good in some parts of tonights game. We have a lot of work a head of us and we are ready for it. Regardless, I’m proud of us. how we fought and played hard until the end.” Ante Zizic had this to say following the game, “It was a tough game and I think we played pretty good. We have to learn from our mistakes and get better. We competed, fought, didn’t give up and showed our character. We were right there and up 5 points with five minutes to go, but we couldn’t finish the job.”

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