Maccabi Tel Aviv downs Barcelona 99-94 in overtime thriller as Zizic out-duels Mirotic

Maccabi Tel Aviv surprised Barcelona 99-94 in overtime as the Yellow & Blue knocked off the first place team in dramatic fashion in Euroleague action. Ante Zizic and Dragan Bender dominated the inside for Ioannis Sfairopoulos’s squad but Nikola Mirotic and Cory Higgins did the same for the visitors. However, the fans willed Maccabi to the hard earned victory as Scottie Wilbekin, Elijah Bryant and Oz Blazyer hit their free throws down the stretch and seven players featured in double digits to notch the win.

Zizic led all scorers with 24 points and 8 rebounds, Bender added 16 points, Angelo Caloiaro scored 12 points while Omri Casspi chipped in with 11 points and Chris Jones dished out 8 assists. Mirotic was Barca’s top scorer with 23 points and 10 boards, Higgins added 20 points while Kyle Kuric and Brandon Davies each scored 12 points in the loss.

Dragan Bender – Photo Credit: Dov Halickman

Dragan Bender opened the game up with a pair of baskets while Angelo Caloiaro went from deep, but Nikola Mirotic matched the Maccabi Tel Aviv forwards plus Cory Higgins added a layup as the score remained deadlocked at 7-7 midway through the first quarter. Chris Jones fed Ante Zizic for a slam off a fast break, Kyle Kuric scored a 3-pointer for Barcelona but Omri Casspi added a pair of baskets in the paint to give the hosts a 19-14 lead after ten minutes.

Adam Hanga – Photo Credit: Dov Halickman

Bender with a dunk and Casspi with a triple sent Barcelona coach Saras Jasikevicius to call a quick timeout at the start of the second quarter. Adam Hanga scored a trio of buckets but Caloiaro and Ante Zizic added points in the paint to stay in front 32-23 with 4:50 left in the half. Mirotic collected his own rebound, Higgins scored on the break and then added a corner 3-pointer while Pierre Oriola banked his first points of the game as Zizic scored to keep Ioannis Sfairopoulos’s squad in the lead 39-38 at halftime.

Ante Zizic – Photo Credit: Dov Halickman

Kuric began the third quarter with a nothing but net 3-pointer, Nick Calathes added points in the key while Higgins hit a jumper, but Bender, Zizic and a triple from Scottie Wilbekin countered for Maccabi as they maintained a 53-50 advantage midway through the frame. Zizic put down back to back dunks and scored a very quick 8 points in the paint but Higgins hit a corner 3-pointer, however, Casspi with free throws and a basket kept the Yellow & Blue ahead 65-59 after thirty minutes of play.

Nikola Mirotic – Photo Credit: Dov Halickman

Dorsey found a cutting Bender under the basket for a reverse layup, Rolands Smits scored a pair in the paint for Barca while Mirotic added points as well to keep the visitors within range down 69-67 with seven minutes left in the fourth quarter. Elijah Bryant went from downtown but Mirotic scored from the inside and outside to pull Barcelona even at 72-72.

Cory Higgins – Photo Credit: Dov Halickman

A quiet Wilbekin and Brandon Davies traded baskets, Zizic hit a turnaround jumper as the shot clock expired but Calathes scored in the paint to tie the game up at 78-78 with 32.6 seconds left in regulation. Chris Jones scored a floater and Higgins raced down the floor to score a deuce to send the game into overtime all knotted up at 80-80.

Scottie Wilbekin – Phot Credit: Dov Halickman

Wilbekin opened the extra session with points plus Davies and Mirotic scored to put Barcelona ahead but Bender went from beyond the arc to draw even at 86-86 with 2:25 left in the overtime period. Davies and Higgins scored their free throws but Bryant and Dorsey hit back to back triples to put Maccabi in lead the 92-90 with 1:05 to go. Mirotic tied it up from the charity stripe, Zizic and Higgins traded baskets but Mirotic was called for a technical after crossing the line on an inbounds pass with 12 seconds left as Wilbekin, Bryant and Oz Blayzer scored their free throws to seal the 99-94 victory.

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