Maccabi Tel Aviv takes comeback victory to break decade long winless streak at Red Star

Mar 15, 2024 | Holyland Hoops

Maccabi Tel Aviv defeated Red Star Belgrade 84-80 as the yellow-and-blue came back from 18-points down to take the win and stay in the hunt for a spot in the quarterfinals. The victory was Maccabi’s first on the road against Red Star Belgrade since 2013, breaking a decade long losing streak in a timely fashion to keep Oded Katash’s team alive for a place directly in the postseason.

Yago Dos Santos put his mark on the game early and often with points galore for the hosts while Javonte Smart also found the bottom of the basket to give Ioannis Sfairopoulos’s squad a 47-31 lead at halftime. However, Katash’s team began to cut down the lead in the second half as Bonzie Colson scored, Josh Nebo dunked at will, Antonius Cleveland’s defense stifled Red Star as Lorenzo Brown and Wade Baldwin conducted the offense to perfection while captain John Dibartolomeo drilled home a triple as time wound down to sew up the victory.

Colson scored 23 points, Nebo added 18 points and grabbed 13 rebounds, Baldwin scored 14 points, took 7 boards and dished out 5 assists in the win. Dos Santos scored 20 points, Adam Hanga added 13 posts and Smart scored 12 points in the loss.

Oded Katash – Photo credit:Djordje Kostic

We showed character,” Katash said after the comeback win. “At halftime we spoke about relaxing and the only way we can come back in the game is to be together but we have to relax. We have to be aggressive and play the right way but we have to relax. We were too nervous on both sides but we showed character, we changed the momentum and we had some good minutes in the third quarter. I really liked how we played in the second half and it was a big one for us. We had some memories in this gym from when we played Partizan and were up by 24 and we lost, so it was kind of a closure for us.”

“I think the game had two different options,” Coach Sfairopoulos said. “We played our game in the first half and disorganized their offense. We played really smart defensively and made good decisions. But we spoke at halftime that Maccabi will react and that we will have to fight harder in the second half. Maccabi played with smaller units, changed tactics and played with guards and played to the fast break. We knew the game would go to the end but we needed to hold them and not allow them to score easy baskets. We were tired in the fourth quarter from the big pressure they put on us. They used their athleticism on the rebound and scored 53 points in the second half.”

Wade Baldwin – Photo credit:Djordje Kostic

Wade Baldwin spoke about Maccabi finally beating Red Star on the road and teh keys to the win, “I have to give a shout out to the Maccabi fanbase as it’s been a 10-11 year drought from beating Red Star on the road which finally came to an end on their home court at a very important time of the season. We were down at halftime but we stuck together, it’s winning time, it’s March, it’s time to make a playoff push and we executed late I’m the game.”

“The key a just staying aggressive and you know when you’re playing down and your back is against the wall, we are trying to make that top 6 and we have to win teh rest of our games so we are right here and we have two games next week then we can see how the dust settles.”

Josh Nebo – Photo credit:Djordje Kostic

An exhausted MVP Josh Nebo looked back at the keys to the victory, “I’m pretty tired. It was tough as we got down pretty big in the first half. We had to exert a lot of energy in the second half to cut it close. I’m very tired but very happy that we got the win. We just started competing harder in the second half. In the first half we came out very flat and we didn’t have any energy and in the second half we stayed together as a team and started to play harder. It’s a very big win for us, at this point of the season every win is precious and I’m very glad that we were able to come out with the win.”

Javonte Smart, Joel Bolomboy and Luka Mitrovic all scored for Red Star Belgrade to get the game underway while a 3-pointer by Jake Cohen and baskets by Wade Baldwin, Josh Nebo and Bonzie Colson for Maccabi Tel Aviv knotted the game up at 9-9 midway though the first quarter. Rokas Giedraitis scored a deuce, Colson scored after a quartet of chances inside, James Webb scored off an inbounds pass, Baldwin dropped a triple as did Yago Dos Santos who scored a floater as well to give the hosts a 21-17 lead after ten minutes of play.

Wade Baldwin – Photo credit:Djordje Kostic

Tamir Blatt dialed up from long distance to begin the second quarter, Adam Hanga and Dejan Davidovac both scored, Smart went from the outside and the inside, Dos Santos put in a layup, Colson went from downtown, Adam hangs dunked and Mitrovic scored a deuce to give Ioannis Sfairpoulos’s team a 47-31 advantage at halftime.

Dos Santos dropped a deuce to start off the third quarter, Colson came back with points, Lorenzo Brown went from deep, Antonius Cleveland dunked, Joel Bolomboy added a bucket as did Dos Santos to keep Red Star in front 55-41 midway through the frame. Nebo and Baldwin dunked, Dos Santos scored inside, Bolomboy put in a hook shot, Cleveland scored off a steal as Maccabi cut down the lead to 61-53 after thirty minutes of action.

Lorenzo Brown – Photo credit:Djordje Kostic

Colson scored to keep chopping down the lead as the fourth quarter began, Brown and Bolomboy traded buckets, Baldwin scored, Brown put in a floater, Nebo scored a 3-point play to give the yellow-and-blue a 66-63 lead with 5:21 remaining in regulation time. Brown fed Nebo for an alley-oop and then he added a put back dunk, Hanga drilled home a 3-pointer, Nebo dunked yet again, Davidovac and Colson went from downtown, Brown dropped a floater, and John Dibartolomeo nailed a triple to close out the game and take the win.

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