Magical Maccabi: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly from The Yellow & Blue’s big win over Bologna

Mar 29, 2023 | Holyland Hoops

Maccabi Tel Aviv won its fifth consecutive EuroLeague game on Tuesday night in a textbook 111-80 win over Virtus Bologna to begin an Italian Double Week. Darrun Hilliard (16 points, 4 rebounds, 5 assists and 1 steal), Lorenzo Brown (14 points, 3 rebounds, 8 assists and 2 steals) and Wade Baldwin IV (14 points, 3 rebounds, 7 assists and 2 steals) lead the scoring for the home team, while Semi Ojeleye (16 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists and 1 steal) and Awudu Abass (13 points and 1 steal) were the only players to score double digits for the visitors.

Here are a few of my reflections from the round 31 clash.

The Good: Maccabi

In the last few weeks, things have started to come together for Maccabi, as they have put together a nice string of wins slowly solidify their place in the playoffs. That trend continued last night.

Bonzie Colson – Photo Credit: Dov Halickman

What was so good about the win? Here are just a few things:
– The team recorded a EuroLeague record of 38 assists throughout the game (the previous EuroLeague record of 36 record was set by Real Madrid in the 2015-16 season and the previous club best of 31 was set by the classic team of 2003-04).

– In contrast to the assists, the team only had 6 turnovers.

– The team scored an equal season-high across the competition for points scored in a half, with 62 points in the first 20 minutes.

– The team recorded a season-high team score.

– Not only did 7 players score in double figures (including Roman Sorkin with 13, Josh Nebo with 12, Bonzie Colson with 11 and Jarell Martin with 10), but every player got court time and scored points (Jake Cohen with 9, Suleiman Braimoh with 5, Rafi Menco with 3, John DiBartolomeo and Iftach Ziv with 2 each).

– No player played more than 23:19 minutes (Hilliard) in the game – and stars Brown and Baldwin played 22:59 (much lower than his 31:20 average) and 18:57 (much lower than his 27:11 average) respectively – which is vital in a EuroLeague double week (in a week with 3 games, if you also count Sunday’s night’s 84-74 victory over Holon).

Of course, it was all smiles after the game from the Yellow & Blue.

Oded Katash – Photo Credit: Dov Halickman

“You can’t expect to have a game like that,” Maccabi coach Oded Katash said after the game. “Bologna is a good team with a good roster. They’re missing a few players, but we’re also always missing players. There are no easy games in the EuroLeague and like every game, I didn’t expect to open that well. I’m very happy. There was a fantastic atmosphere here today. We to take that and hold onto it. That’s it – we need to already focus on the next game.”

“For sure feels amazing, everybody touches the ball, we hit great shots and played great defense,” Brown said after the game. “I feel like we have been prepping for the game a lot better. We found our niche and that seems to be going on right now. For sure we are hitting our peak right now, in an important moment for this team, playoffs around the corner and we are fighting to get there. You never know what happens.”

Darrun Hilliard – Photo Credit: Dov Halickman

“It’s really important when we get a good win like that we want everyone involved, I think we did that and it was a great win,” Hilliard, who has struggled to get court time this season, said after his best game for the season. “We did not expect that, but it’s a great accomplishment. We can keep scoring and passing the ball.”

“For sure it’s a big win for us,” Nebo – who also had a performance index rating of 19 (only behind the 23 recorded by each of Brown and Baldwin) – said. “It feels very good. I think for sure we are playing our best basketball and we got to keep it up stay healthy and move forward.”

Josh Nebo – Photo Credit: Dov Halickman

Last night, we saw a team peaking at exactly the right time of the season and fans will hope that this trend continues at the most critical point of the season.

The Bad: The early start time

With such a dominant victory, it’s hard to find any bad parts of Maccabi’s game (although if I wanted to nitpick, I could focus on Virtus winning the last quarter 27-24). So instead, I’ll use this as an opportunity to have a whine about the early tipoff last night. A majority of Maccabi’s home EuroLeague games begin at 21:00, giving people plenty of time to get to the stadium from their jobs and other commitments. Last night, due to the Israeli football national team’s Euro 2024 qualifier which began at 21:45, Maccabi’s game instead began at 19:00. While this time may be great for people to bring their kids, it’s not great for everyone. To make things worse, the national team had a howler, losing away to Switzerland 0-3.

Thankfully for us hoops fans (and for those whose spirits are dampened by the national team’s performance), there will be no more national team games until June.

The Ugly: Confrontations between players and fans

Maccabi was leading by an insurmountable 34 points after three quarters, which made the fans happy and perhaps made them feel comfortable speaking freely to the players on the court. Just before play started in the fourth quarter, some fans said something which clearly displeased Virtus’s Tornike Shengelia (5 points, 2 rebounds, 2 assists and 1 steal), who got up from his team’s bench and moved towards the stands to confront the culprits. Luckily, some of his teammates, as well as Maccabi chairman Shimon Mizrahi, came across to help calm down Shengelia and prevent things from escalating.

Toko Shengelia – Photo Credit: Dov Halickman

Earlier on Wednesday, Shengelia himself posted a message on Instagram, indicating that he bears no hard feelings: “It has always been a pleasure to play in Israel, be it with my club or competing against the national team at FIBA competitions.. I’ve always received warm and felt support from Israeli fans of which I’ll always be thankful. Maccabi and its fans have always been respected by me, and yesterday will not change that.. Majority will not be defined by minority.. and thanks to all the fans sending me supportive messages..”

Shengelia then shared some of those supportive messages, which included both praise for him as an athlete and apologies from them for their fellow fans’ behavior at the game.

Maccabi Tel Aviv celebrates – Photo Credit: Dov Halickman

Yad Eliyahu is one of the toughest places to play in Europe – and Maccabi boasts a 13-2 home record this season – but hopefully the fans will continue to support the team in a positive way while letting the team beat their opponents on the court.

Up Next: Milano at home

Maccabi will try to complete an Italian home sweet when they host Milano tomorrow night at 21:05 IDT (14:05 EDT), with a win all but securing a spot for the Yellow & Blue in the playoffs for a second consecutive year and in a good position to avoid Olympiacos and Real Madrid on the path to the final four.

While they are one of the form teams in the EuroLeague with 8 wins from their past 10 outings, they are coming to Tel Aviv from Turkey after a crushing 89-69 loss to Anadolu Efes last night, with them now needing an miracle to make the playoffs. Hopefully for Maccabi, this is something that they will be able to capitalize on to finish the month of March strongly.

“The game versus Milan is big, they are desperate to get into the playoffs as well, we need to enjoy this win and then focus towards Thursday.”

Sign up for our newsletter


You may also like…


Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates. 

You have Successfully Subscribed!