Maccabi drops Fenerbahce 85-76; Real Madrid up next in Euroleague quarterfinals

Apr 13, 2022 | Holyland Hoops

Maccabi Tel Aviv downed Fenerbahce 85-76 as James Nunnally, Ante Zizic and Scottie Wilbekin led the way for the yellow-and-blue to put the finishing touches on their Euroleague regular season that saw Avi Even’s team finish with a 17-11 record.

With the victory, Maccabi ended their 28 game campaign in fifth place overall in the standings setting up a best of five quarterfinal series with Real Madrid, the fourth place team. Game one and two will take place on Wednesday and Friday night in Spain while game 3 and if necessary game 4 will be played back in Israel the following week. Should there be a game five that will take place in Madrid on Yom Ha’atzmaut, Israel’s Independence Day.

Jalen Reynolds – Photo Credit: Dov Halickman

The yellow-and-blue played a depleted Fenerbahce squad due to injuries next and neck throughout the majority of the game but the trio of Nunnally with 19 points and 7 rebounds, Zizic with 16 points and 7 boards as well along with Wilbekin who scored 14 points, added 6 assists and 5 steals came up with the key baskets down the stretch to take the 9-point victory. Devin Booker paced the visitors with 14 points while Ahmet Duverioglu scored 12 points in the defeat.

Avi Even – Photo Credit: Dov Halcikman

“We won and this is the first goal that we had,” Maccabi coach Avi Even began. “We weren’t at our best, but I’m happy that we managed to squeeze the last few minutes, to bring more energy, better defense, better execution on offense. We need to learn also to win when we’re not playing great. That’s part of being a good team.”

Sasa Djordjevic – Photo Credit: Dov Halickman

“I think we played excellent basketball for 38 minutes,” Fenerbahce coach Sasa Djordjevic said. “Then we rushed some shots outside our system that brought us to play a great game in those 38 minutes. We found good ball movement which we needed against an aggressive Maccabi team, but we had a lack of execution, lack of ideas, rushing the shots. I wish Maccabi good luck in the playoffs.”

Ante Zizic – Photo Credit: Dov Halickman

Maccabi big man Ante Zizic reflected on the game, “For us, it was very important to get some extra confidence before the playoffs. I know tonight wasn’t our best game of the season, we were flat most of the game, but what’s most important is that we got the win and now we can be focused on the playoffs. We didn’t try to calculate, we left everything on the court and now we’re ready for the next step.”

Devin Booker put in points early for Fenerbahce to open up the first quarter, but Ante Zizic scored inside, Khyri Thomas and Derrick Williams dialled up long distance for Maccabi Tel Aviv, however, Ahmet Duverioglu scored to keep the game all knotted up at 21-21 after ten minutes of play.

James Nunnally – Photo Credit: Dov Halickman

James Nunnally got the second quarter underway with a triple, Marko Guduric matched him on the other side of the floor, Jehyve Floyd added points for Sasa Djordevic’s team but John DiBartolomeo went from deep while Nunnally did as well twice to put Avi Even’s club in front 37-32. Zizic and Nunnally found the bottom of the basket, Booker dunked while Duverioglu added a basket but Wilbekin went from downtown to keep Maccabi ahead 45-43 at halftime.

Zizic scored on the inside and Nunnally drilled a triple from the outside to get things rolling in the third quarter, Pierria Henry, Floyd and Shemus Hazer all found points but Wilbekin and Williams each went from deep to give Maccabi a 60-53 lead midway through the period. Nunnally dunked, Metecan Birsen and Achille Polonara scored for Fenerbahce while DiBartolomeo added points as the yellow-and-blue took a 66-62 advantage after thirty minutes.

Scottie Wilbekin – Photo Credit: Dov Halickman

Jake Cohen and Ismet Akpinar traded triples as the fourth quarter began in earnest, Polonara added points as did Booker to give the visitors a 75-73 lead midway through the frame. Evans went from deep, Zizic found points in the paint for a pair of baskets and Wilbekin scored off a break to sew up the 9-point win to close out the regular season.

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