Maccabi smashes Barcelona 99-83

Maccabi Tel Aviv dominated Barcelona 99-83 at Yad Eliyahu to improve their record to 8-11. Tarik Black led all Yellow & Blue scorers with 16 points, Scottie Wilbekin and Johnny O’Bryant added 15 points a piece while John DiBartolomeo scored a huge 14 points in the win. Pau Ribas with 13 points an Pierre Oriola with 12 points paced Barcelona.

Black and Wilbekin got off to a hot start as each scored 4 points a piece in the first five minutes of the quarter to give Maccabi a 11-5 lead out of the box but Hanga and Tomic helped Barcelona back into the game. However, Dibartolomeo scored 5 points to give the Yellow & Blue a 23-20 lead after ten minutes.

Wilbekin’s 6 points gave Maccabi a 37-27 lead with 5:55 left in the half as the guard drilled home a pair of 3-pointers while a Zoosman triple followed up by a Kane three gave the Yellow & Blue a 43-27 advantage. DiBartolomeo and Tyus continued to pound Barca from the outside and inside as the former hit a triple at the buzzer as Maccabi headed into the halftime break ahead 57-35.

Maccabi didn’t waste any time extending their lead in the third quarter to 30 points, 70-40 as 3-pointers by O’Bryant and Kane gave the Coach Sfairopoulos’s squad the big advantage while Jake Cohen, Black and Zoosman added points to head into the final frame with a 85-52 lead.

However, Barcelona went on a 20-0 run to start the 4th quarter as Pau Ribas, Thomas Heurtel, Pierre Oriola and Rolands Smits hit three pointers to cut the Maccabi lead to 85-72. But 7 points by Black made sure the Yellow & Blue recorded a 99-83 win.

1) John DiBartolomeo continues to not only amaze but develop as a serous threat for Maccabi in Euroleague play. So much so that Barcelona coach Svetislav Pesic has some of the highest compliments for the Israeli guard, “Some of his 3 pointers were NBA shots. We talked about John DiBartolomeo before the game more than any other player and tonight he had a great game. Perhaps we talked too much about him.” Well I don’t think there’s ever enough to say about JohnD, Maccabi’s Captain and consummate professional. Yellow & Blue Head Coach Ioannis Sfairopoulos also complimented his captain following the game, “John is a very important player for us and he can give a lot of solutions. He has a great scoring ability and he’s very experienced.” I tried to get DiBartolomeo to talk about himself a bit after he put up 14 first half points including his triple at the end of the half, but he’s always modest and looked to talk about the team first and foremost, “Big first half for the team. We were able to jump on them early. But there’s no special trick, we come in and work hard every day.”

2) Maccabi’s Bigs were not only terrific but dominant. Alex Tyus scored 11 points on a perfect 5/5 from the field. Tarik Black was superb with 16 points on 6/6, 6 rebounds and drew 5 fouls, while Johnny O’Bryant scored 11 points grabbed 7 boards and drew 6 fouls. Black surprisingly started the game over Tyus and gave the coach quite the performance for having faith in him especially after Tyus had been playing so well when starting. Coach Sfairopoulos spoke about the impact his big men had against Barcelona, “We needed to adjust according to the opponent as to who would start. It was a good game from all the players. When we move the ball we always try to find the best shooting opportunity.” And the best was definitely inside as Maccabi went 17/19 from inside the paint while Barcelona went only 9/12.

3) One of the big men Johnny O’Bryant who also went 3/6 from beyond the arc spoke about the successful night the team had as they continue to come together as a unit, “We came out and hit some big shots tonight. They left us open from the 3 and we hit the shots. We played a bit around with the lead though in the last quarter but we played great defense tonight as well. We’re getting used to playing with each other and used to the system so we’re starting to gel as a team.” Jake Cohen who had the opportunity to play a bit of center against Ante Tomic also discussed the team coming together as one, “We came out there focused and motivated and we caught them off guard with our energy. The fans really helped and we were able to get a big win for us tonight. I think we’re starting to figure out what works.”

All in all this was a fantastic win for Maccabi as coach Sfairopoulos out together a brilliant game plan against a team that has a very stagnant offense and through 3 quarters the Yellow & Blue took more attempts from 3 with 26 than from 2 with 21. Their percentages were incredible with 85% and 46% respectively as the team moved the ball quickly and efficiently to get open and uncontested shots as much as possible. The energy level certainly surprised Barcelona who also didn’t get good performances from Victor Claver and Chris Singleton with no points, Kyle Kuric with only a couple and 8 from Tomic who usually dominates Maccabi. It’s clear that the coach knew what he was doing as the club now has the same amount of wins as Baskonia and Panathinaikos who they face head to head over the next two weeks as well as Milano who they defeated in Israel.

And-1 And-Some
* Yovel Zoosman again had a solid game with 7 points in 20 minutes but was also so effective on defense sticking to Kuric like fly paper.

* DeAndre Kane hobbled off in the last quarter with a hamstring injury.

* Tarik Black changed his jersey in the first half and showed it to the referees as it was ripped and no foul was called.

* Michael Roll celebrated with the fans after finally hitting a 3-pointer going 1/4 from long distance as his father was in attendance.

* Scottie Wilbekin has a solid outing with not only 15 points but he was able to draw 6 fouls.

* Jeremy Pargo who was available for the game did not play after receiving some time against Hapoel Beer Sheva.

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