1) Tyler Dorsey finally had a chance to show the Israeli basketball aficionados what he could do when unleashed on the court, and show them he did. The Pasadena, California native entered the game midway through the first quarter to cheers from the Maccabi faithful and didn’t disappoint them right from the get go as he scored 9 first half points. Turn back the clock to this past Thursday night when Coach Ioannis Sfairpoulos had some fairly harsh words for the guard to just 48 hours later when the club decided to register him as a foreigner after him not being able to get Israeli citizenship for one reason or another. And Dorsey didn’t let his coach down, his coach that had faith in him to rise to the occasion and to really play like the player he knew that they were signing in the summer, a scorer who is going to leave it all on the court. The Yellow & Blue not only got a scorer but also a player who seemed to feed off of Scottie Wilbekin who was hotter than hot.
2) Dorsey is needed especially with the team about to embark on a 14 game month ahead. Was this one of the reasons Maccabi registered him and how will both sides benefit? “It helps me get into a rhythm now that I can play most of the games,” explained the Oregon product. “It was taking too long to get the citizenship set up for one reason or another and I would have missed too many games.” What changed over the 48 hours between the win over Valencia and the time that the team had to submit their squad to the league administration ahead of the game? Sfairpoulos didn’t want to show his cards, “These are secrets and I can’t say in public why. Dorsey will now play two games every week and it was hard for him to find a rhythm by playing just one game a week beforehand. This is his starting point.”
3) Scottie Wilbekin hit one three after the next in a lethal third quarter and the guard showed what he can do when put into a situation to succeed. Whether it was waiting in the corner for the ball or taking a triple from straight away, Wilbekin went 6/7 in what was a fantastic display and one that the fans would like to see week in and week out. “The picture on the court was very obvious that we played better in the second half and it was a great half,” said Sfairpoulos. “We moved the ball and found a lot of open shots for Scottie and Tyler.” Oded Katash also spoke about the troubles his squad had containing the former EuroCup MVP, “For a game and a half we were able to neutralize Maccabi and their guards but the third quarter everything fell apart on both sides of the floor. We gave Wilbekin the shots we didn’t want him to get and he hit them.” Dorsey talked about what it was like to have some solid minutes on the floor with Wilbekin, “Scottie had an amazing game and he gave us the lead. We were able to feed off his energy and he gave us that boost.” J’Covan Brown who had a terrific game with 27 points for Jerusalem had this to say about Wilbekin’s performance especially in the third quarter, “They were making shots and Scottie had 4 three pointers. If we limited those opportunities it would be a different game, but they made shots and you have to give them credit and take nothing away from them. We’ll see them later in the season.”
Maccabi not only played top level offense in the second half but also lock down defense against a very solid Jerusalem team. One of the most overwhelming stats was rebounds which saw the Yellow & Blue totally demolish the Reds on the boards and that was dominant in the Winner Cup Final which saw Jerusalem control the glass. That wasn’t going to happen again, not with Othello Hunter in the lineup this time around as the veteran big man grabbed 8 boards. “I’m always happy when we win a game but there are still a lot of things we need to clean up like the turnovers in the first half. The second half we played great defense and we came out aggressive. Last game they had 16 offensive rebounds so to beat them on the glass was important.” Sfairpoulos also shared his thoughts on the battle of the boards, “It was very important to control the boards and the big guys really did a great job out-rebounding our opponent’s by 44-26. This showed how we wanted to play defensively and finish our plays.”
A) It’s clear that there are differences between a Euroleague team and a Champions League one and that was clearly on display at Yad Eliyahu. Budgets are bigger, players are better and rosters are deeper. Katash talked about what his squad tried to do to level the playing field as best as possible, “Maccabi has a squad that is the top of the Euroleague and everyone knows it. It’s always a challenge to play against them. I am proud as to how the players played in the first half and Maccabi had to make hard plays to win and it wasn’t a walk in the park. Maccabi has a deep roster that has size and is athletic.” There’s no question that on paper Maccabi has all of that, but of course the game is played on the floor and not on paper, but if this game was any indication, there is a tremendous gap between the teams as there was last year, which is not going to change any time soon.
B) Fenerbache is coming to town on Wednesday night in a predicament that no one, but no one would have predicted that they would be in. With a 1-3 Euroleague record with all three losses coming on the road and with a Turkish league blowout loss to Galatasaray Zeljko Obradovic’s squad is in trouble. And hopefully for Maccabi they won’t be at the wrong end of that trouble. With a star studded roster which includes Nando De Colo, Kostas Sloukas, JanVesely and others, their play to date has been shocking to say the least. “That’s an important game and we have to protect the house so we’re looking forward to that,” explained Hunter. “They are a very good team and they have played a lot together but they haven’t played well,” Sfairpoulos stated. “We will rest up and we have to have the crowd give us a true home court advantage from the old days of Yad Eliyahu. When I was here as an opposing coach I couldn’t here myself in the timeouts. That’s the way I want our home to be.”