Maccabi Tel Aviv played their best game so far this season in an 87-77 victory over Fenerbahce. Sonny Weems scored 22 points while Yogev Ohayon dropped 19 points of his own as the Yellow & Blue moved to 3-4 overall in Euroleague play. A trip to Russia and a date with Kazan is up next for Maccabi as they head out tomorrow morning for the Thursday night tilt.
Yogev Ohayon led Maccabi out of the starting block with 7 first quarter points while Jan Vesely matched the Israeli guard’s output for Fenerbahce as the visitors led by two after the opening quarter, 17-15. The second quarter saw Devin Smith and Sonny Weems each score 8 points as the team finished the half with 8 steals and some positive momentum heading into halftime up 43-39. Nikola Kalinic provided 8 points for the Turkish team and Ekpe Udoh scored 12 first half points, keeping the away team within striking distance.
Maccabi would extend their lead in the third frame thanks to some terrific offense from Weems with 14 points in the quarter while Bobby Dixon and Luigi Datome tried to keep their team close as the score stood at 66-60 after 30 minutes. The last quarter saw Maccabi take charge outscoring their opponents 19-5 over the first 7+ minutes to take a 85-65 advantage. Yogev Ohayon led the way with 19 points overall as the Yellow & Blue wrapped up a tidy 87-77 result. Maccabi shot a cool 65% from the field on 28/43 while they also hit 40% of the 3-pointers.
1) The win over Fenerbahce and arguably the best coach ever to grace the Euroleague sidelines, Zeljko Obradovic was a nice neat win for Rami Hadar. On a personal level I’m sure that he was thrilled to be able to match wits with one of the greatest basketball minds plus also record a victory following two losses in a row and a domestic league defeat his last Saturday night. Hadar won’t be able to rest on his laurels for long as he heads to Russia and a date with Kazan as Hapoel Jerusalem continued to loom large on Sunday night. He still has a way to go, but a solid win against the Turkish team gives him some much needed breathing room.
2) Even though Maccabi played extremely well, especially with a high tempo offense against Feberbahce, it’s alarming to see that the Yellow & Blue shot 7/15 (47%) from the free throw line. That is an insane stat. Eight missed free throws from the charity stripe in most games could be the difference in a win or a loss. That’s a scary stat and one that Maccabi should definitely be concerned about as it may be something that will be exploited later on in the season.
3) Sonny Weems had a monster second and third quarters sealing the deal with 22 points over a 17 minute period. He was slicing and dicing to the hole, slammed and jamming at will and looked liked the player everyone thought he would be. One complaint levied at Weems is that he has opened games up very poorly all season long and it would take him some time to get out of first gear. However, against Fenerbahce this seemed to be a moot point. Could this be a turning point for Weems? Time will tell already this Thursday night at 18:00 Israel time.
Our Israeli contingent of Yogev Ohayon (30 minutes), Guy Pnini (13 minutes) and Gal Mekel (1 minute) played a total of 44 minutes and scored 24 points on the evening which is a much healthier situation than what has been over the past little while. Still, only really having two Israelis play significant minutes is a major problem for Israeli basketball at large and this question needs to addressed ASAP as young talent being developed in Israel may not be given the proper opportunities to flourish.
They said it:
Maccabi Tel Aviv Head Coach Rami Hadar:
“I think today is the first time this season that the spirit of Maccabi came out. We played tough defense that created us a lot of open court opportunities, which we used well, better than we have until now. I think that was the key for the win. Goudelock had some sort of problem with his ankle and could not play. I knew about this afternoon, we had to deal with not having him and we were able to do so. We are in the middle of a process as a team and we’ll continue that process. As great as this win is, it doesn’t give us a single point against Kazan on Thursday.”
Feberbahce Head Coach Zeljko Obradovic:
“First of all, I want to congratulate Maccabi because they played a very good game, very aggressive, which is Maccabi’s style. They tried to run and scored a lot of points in transition. We were not able to stop their transition game. We talked about this and try to prepare ourselves for that, and a lot of these points came after really bad turnovers that my players did. To really understand the game, we saw the statistics and found over there that we had 13 fouls and Maccabi shot, if I remember well, 15 free throws. This means that every foul led to free throws – this is how you use fouls. A team with experienced players, that played a lot of games in the last two years, doing this kind of games. Nothing to do – the final result is let’s say correct for us, only 10 points, after how things were in the second half, it could have been a bigger loss. Congratulations again to Maccabi. It is always very nice to play over here because people understand basketball very well. We knew that Andrew Goudelock would not play the game. It would sound like an excuse if I say Bogdan Bogdanovic didn’t play. I believe that everybody in our team understands how important Bogdanovic is for us and I don’t like to talk about a player who is not present. We have other players and Maccabi was in the same situation with Goudelock.”
Victor Rudd, Maccabi Tel Aviv:
“I feel like personally, I had a five-game stretch in which I didn’t really get into the game. I’m just glad I was able to leave my mark out there today. The fans have been amazing since I got here and I’m glad we finally gave them something to cheer about.”
“I think we just got tired of losing. We came out as a unit and got a great team win for our fans. There’s no doubt that it was mainly a mental issue, because everybody knows the talent level we have. I hope we can continue to build on this going forward. We still have a lot of work to do.”