Maccabi Tel Aviv downed Real Madrid 100-96 in overtime to end the regular season with 20-14 and finish in 5th place overall setting up a date with Monaco the quarterfinals of the Euroleague.
Oded Katash’s team was able to overcome one of the toughest teams in the continent to take a brand new squad into a best of five series that will begin in the principality for the opening two games and will then shift to Israel for game three and if necessary game four. Should a decisive game five be ended that will be played back in Monaco as Mike James and his team will also be looking to punch their ticket to the Final Four which is slated to take place in Lithuania.
Dzanan Musa took control of the game out of the gate but Lorenzo Brown and Wade Baldwin along with Jarell Martin cut the Real Madrid lead to 18-16 after the opening period. Mario Hezonja and Sergio Rodriguez allowed Chus Mateo’s team to begin to pull away but Roman Sorkin with points and Bonzie Colson kept Oded Katash’s team hanging around but down 42-37 at halftime.
Maccabi came out on a mission in the third quarter when they found out that 5th place and a playoff date with Monaco was in reach as Colson continued to have the hot hand but Guerschon Yabusele and Gabriel Deck helped Real retake the lead, however, clutch points by Josh Nebo, John Dibartolomeo and Brown gave the hosts a 65-62 lead after thirty minutes. Brown, Baldwin and Nebo kept finding the basket but so did Deck and Yabusele as the game headed into overtime all tied up at 86-86.
Brown went off with a leg injury just as the extra session began, but that didn’t stop Maccabi as Baldwin, Hilliard and Sorkin all scored to polish off the victory and set up a quarterfinal date with Monaco.
“This was a huge win for us against one of the best teams in Europe,” Katash began. “They have a lot of size where we had to play differently than we would normally play. I said that we had to play our way at halftime and that is what we did in the second half and the players reacted extremely well. We had some good shots that we missed and could have lost. But we went into overtime and found the extra strength and the energy despite Brown being injured. I’m proud of the staff and everyone that we finished in fifth place which is something quite incredible for a team that was just out together this past summer. You can see that I’m very excited.”
“It was a great game for the fans with two teams trying their best fighting to win in the last game of the regular season,” Real coach Chus Matteo. “Fighting for every ball but in the end Maccabi was lucky and they got the victory. I’m happy with the efforts of the guys and we are going to try and make it to the Final Four.”
Bonzie Colson also spoke about the game, “It is a great feeling. Real Madrid are tough and I think they are the best team I played vs Europe. They can shoot and spread the floor. They can play well and have a good group of guys. We need to continue to the playoffs with the momentum. I think it’s special. It’s a blessing ans I work my tail off. I think I found my niche.”
Prior to tip-off Maccabi Tel Aviv legend Aulcie Perry was honored by the club with some of the yellow-and-blue and Los Blancos greats in attendance.
The “Killer B’s” got the proceedings underway for Maccabi Tel Aviv as both Lorenzo Brown and the Euroleague Player for the month of March Wade Baldwin each scored, Dzanan Musa and Guerschon Yabusele each went from deep and Walter Tavares added points as Real Madrid held a 9-7 lead midway through the first quarter. Bonzie Colson went from deep, Tavares dunked at the other end, Musa went from downtown, Gabriel Deck found points in the paint, Josh Nebo did the same at the other end and Jarell Martin hit a midrange to stay close but down 18-16 after ten minutes of action.
John Dibartolomeo led off the second quarter with a triple, Rudy Fernandez matched him, Roman Sorkin put in a mini-hook, Mario Hezonja went from downtown and Sergio Rodriguez also scored to keep Chus Mateo’s team ahead 27-23 with 6:39 left in the first half. Sorkin again put in a bucket, Rodriguez drilled home a pair from long distance, Brown and Nebo came back with points, Hezonja went from way downtown but a basket by Colson plus a quartet of free throws kept Oded Katash’s squad hanging around but down 42-37 at halftime.
Brown began the third quarter with points, Colson dunked, Nebo scored, Colson scored off a break to finish off a 13-0 run that began late in the second period as Maccabi grabbed a 46-44 lead midway through the frame. Brown went from deep, Yabusele put in a trio from the line and then lined up for a triple, Darrun Hilliard went from downtown, Brown fed Nebo for a monster alley-oop, Hezonia came back with a 3-pointer, Dibartolomeo dropped a trio of free throws and a basket by Brown along with free throws gave the yellow-and-blue a 65-62 lead after thirty minutes of action.
Nebo, Sorkin and Brown came out on fire to begin the fourth quarter, Yabusele and Martin traded triples and Baldwin went from deep as Maccabi took a 78-71 lead with five minutes remaining in regulation time. Baldwin found points, Jake Cohen scored his first basket of the game, Yabusele and Deck quickly responded, Baldwin fed Nebo for another alley-oop, Yabusele again went from deep and Deck hit a pair of free throws to knot the score up at 86-86 and send the game to overtime.
Yabusele dunked to begin the extra session which saw Brown go off favoring his leg, Baldwin hit a jumper, Sorkin put in a missed Hilliard 3-pointer, Yabusele scored, Hilliard drained a triple off a screen, Baldwin fed Sorkin for an easy dunk, Deck came away with an easy basket, Hilliard dropped a pair of free throws as Maccabi wrapped up the win.