They say that the captain of a team is the heart and soul and those words couldn’t have been truer as John Dibartolomeo left everything on the court in Maccabi Tel Aviv’s 90-84 win over Olympiacos. The victory broke a three game EuroLeague losing streak as Oded Katash’s squad will now prepare in earnest for a return trip to Belgrade where they will tip off against Red Star Belgrade on Thursday.
Maccabi received stellar performances from not only regular contributors Wade Baldwin and Lorenzo Brown, but also Jarell Martin and Austin Hollins who have not played many minutes of late.
Baldwin and Hollins got the yellow-and-blue off to a good start as Maccabi grabbed an early 22-20 lead after the first quarter, while Brown spurred the offense in the second period as Kostas Papanikolau and Sasha Vezenkov paced Olympiacos to stay close 45-43 at halftime.
However, a poor third quarter by Katash’s crew saw Georgios Bartzokas’s team go up by double digits with Giannoulis Larentzakis and Kostas Sloukas leading the way, but Maccabi found a way to cut the advantage with points by Bonzie Colson to 69-63 after thirty minutes of play. In the final frame, Dibartolomeo along with Martin, Baldwin and Brown fought back to drill down the lead and then go ahead to take the victory.
Baldwin led the way with 22 points while going 8/8 from the fire throw line, Brown added 16 points and 6 assists, Jarell Martin scored his Euroleague high 13 points and Dibartolomeo scored 11 points in the win.
Larentzakis paced Olympiacos with 21 points, Vezenkov added 17 points, Sloukas chipped in with 15 points and Papanikolau scored 13 points in the loss.
“This win says a lot,” Maccabi coach Oded Katash said. “We played against a really good team, and it was tough. We showed some character. We are finding the way, with a lot of energy. I liked what we got from the bench. That’s a big one for us. The atmosphere helped us a lot. We are used to it, but we don’t take it for granted.”
“With the way we played the last quarter, we deserve to lose this game,” a disappointed Olympiacos coach Bartzokas said. “We got that 10-11 points advantage and we needed to manage just to protect the ball, not to turn the ball over. We made a lot of turnovers in the fourth quarter. We gave them the confidence to get back to the game, and then it was very difficult.”
The game’s high scorer Wade Baldwin reflected on the game, ”Hear the crowd going. I mean, the support that they give us at home helps us. Darrun, Austin, Lorenzo, Roman Sorkin, etc., they played huge tonight. That crowd brought us home tonight. It was a great home win, we got another one on Thursday.”
Kostas Papanikolau and Wade Baldwin traded triples to get the game off and running, Sasha Vezenkov and Papanikolau added baskets for Olympiacos while Austin Hollins scored off an inbounds pass for Maccabi Tel Aviv but the visitors led 9-5 midway through the first quarter. Vezenkov scored off a break, Baldwin answered with a pair of 3-pointers while Hollins added one of his own, Kostas Sloukas stroked one from downtown as did John Dibartolomeo while Baldwin hit a pair from the charity stripe to give the hosts a 22-20 lead after ten minutes of play.
Alex Peters dialled up long distance to begin the second quarter, Dibartolomeo scored at the other end, Lorenzo Brown scored from inside and outside the arc, Giannoulis Larentzakis scored for Georgios Bartzokas’s squad to take a 35-31 lead with 5:15 left in the period. Baldwin and Sloukas traded points from deep, Brown scored a long deuce, Shaquille McKissic scored as did Brown but Vezenkov went from downtown to keep Olympiacos ahead 45-43 at halftime.
Isaiah Canaan and Vezenkov scored, Maccabi kept shooting blanks, Canaan scored an acrobatic layup and Papanikolau went from deep to bump the Olympiacos lead up to 56-46 midway through the period. Canaan was ejected for his second unsportsmanlike foul of the quarter, Dibartolomeo scored from the line and added a deuce, Vezenkov came back with a 3-point play, Larentzakis and Alex Poythress traded baskets, Papanikolau dialled up long distance but so did Bonzie Colson as Oded Katash’s team cut the lead to 69-63 after thirty minutes of action.
Martin went from deep while Larentzakis found points to open up the fourth quarter, Sorkin scored off a miss, Brown nailed an off balance jumper and Martin drilled a corner 3-ball to give Maccabi a 73-71 lead with 5:43 remaining in regulation time. Larentzakis and Brown traded triples, Dibartolomeo nailed a jumper, Martin finished off a team play in the paint, Larentzakis continued with his hot hand and scored a pair of 3-pointers, but baskets by Brown and a dunk by Baldwin wrapped up the win.