Maccabi Tel Aviv wrapped up a tidy 95-89 win over ALBA Berlin on Gameday 18 of Euroleague action. The win for Ioannis Sfairopoulos’s squad moves their record to 12-6 as they ready for a double week of continental action beginning with Barcelona on Tuesday night followed by Milano on Thursday evening. Elijah Bryant with 19 points was the spark plug for the Yellow & Blue providing instant offense throughout the contest with five 3-pointers leading Maccabi to a 14/27 night from long distance.
In addition to 19 points from Bryant, Jalen Reynolds scored 17 points in his second appearance for Maccabi, Wilbekin dropped 15 points and Jake Cohen notched 11 points in the win. Martin Hermannsson led Alba with 16 points, Marcus Erikson had 12 points and Rokas Giedraitis added 11 pints in the defeat.
Elijah Bryant has the hot hand for Maccabi Tel Aviv as the guard drilled a pair of triples and a floater while Luke Sikma scored six points for Alba Berlin as the squads were all knotted up at 12 a piece midway through the first quarter. Scottie Wilbekin, Bryant and Deni Avdija hit from beyond the arc as Niels Giffey and Markus Eriksson kept the hosts within striking distance but the Yellow & Blue took a 31-28 lead after ten minutes.
Angelo Caloiaro, Tyler Dorsey and Jalen Reynolds with a dunk extended Ioannis Sfairopoulos’s teams lead to 37-29 with 7:45 remaining in the second quarter. Reynolds kept scoring for Maccabi as did Dorsey but Makai Mason scored two triples and Tyler Cavanaugh put in a layup to keep ALBA in the game down 45-43 as time wound down in the frame. However, another Bryant 3-pointer gave the Yellow & Blue a 50-45 advantage as the teams went into halftime.
Bryant got the third quarter off to a sparkling start with another triple, Quincy Acy slammed the ball home and Reynolds scored in the paint as Maccabi went ahead 61-52 midway through the frame. Reynolds sent a perfect pass to Jake Cohen who drained a corner 3 and then the pair followed it up for another triple by Cohen this time from the top as Sfairopoulos’s squad stayed in front 72-64 after thirty minutes.
Cohen scored a beauty of a layup, Caloiaro added points and Wilbekin hit another 3-pointer as Maccabi 79-70 lead five minutes into the fourth quarter. Cohen hit his third triple of the game and Acy also went from deep as the Yellow & Blue grabbed the
1) Elijah Bryant was fantastic for Maccabi Tel Aviv as they guard scored at will throughout the 40 minutes. The BYU product began the game with 11 first quarter points and never looked back. Bryant has continuously improved this season especially on the defensive side of the game, making coach Sfairopoulos one happy man to have a player who can play both ends of the floor. Even when he doesn’t score, Bryant is usually helping out a variety of other ways on the floor and he did exactly that against ALBA Berlin with not only 19 points but he also grabbed 8 rebounds, dished out 4 assists and ended the evening with an efficiency rating of 29. What was the key for his spectacular evening? “My guys were finding me and it can be anyone’s night, tonight I was able to hit my shots. Alba played very hard and killed us on transition but we cleaned things up in the second half and paid attention to detail.”
2)The new additions, Jalen Reynolds and Aaron Jackson had a mixed evening. Reynolds was dominant inside as he scored 17 points, pulled down 7 rebounds and handed out 3 assists for an excellent performance in 20 minutes of action. Jackson played 10 minutes but just doled out a pair of helpers while not even taking a shot. As confident as Reynolds played, Jackson was hesitant and it looks like he’s still getting back into shape after being out for a month plus of time.
All in all Coach Sfairopoulos is happy with his new additions, “Jalen Reynolds and Aaron Jackson started to pick us our philosophy and they were better after the first game where they had only had two practices. They will get to know the game we play and their teammates as time goes on and will continue to get better.” Elijah Bryant also commented about Reynolds’ game, “A lot of credit on the defensive end altering shots he really helped us not only on offense.” Reynolds himself spoke about his play, “I’m just trying to do what I can do to help the team. I listen to the coach who told us to be ready from the beginning to the end and play hard. Playing the way we did and passing the back I think the skies the limit for this team.”
3) How many teams can bring over 1,000 fans to a road Euroleague game? Not many that’s for sure, but Maccabi Tel Aviv were able to do it. With many transplanted Israelis living in Berlin and with tons mode taking inexpensive flights to Germany, the supporters really painted the city Yellow & Blue. What did the players think of the fans backing their very move? “They were great we heard them the whole game and supported us really good,” Wilbekin said. Reynolds also got to see the faithful on full display, “The fans were definitely our 6th man. I think we’re the only team in the league with that type of traveling road support.” Last but not least the maestro of the fans, none other than Coach Sfairopoulos who has been the biggest booster of the fans had this to say, “I want to thank the great support by our fans who flew from Israel and from around Europe to come here for the game. We are very proud that we have this crowd close to us and we are happy that we gave them this win tonight to reward them for all of the support they gave us tonight.”
After two road losses it was critical for Maccabi to head into their back to back home double week on a good note and that’s exactly what they did. “This was our third game on the road after two losses and we had a better game tonight,” Sfairopoulos said. “It was important that we controlled the game from our offense and that’s how we won the game. We performed really good offensively with 95 points but Alba found a rhythm and they have a good passing game. We controlled the game and we had a double digit lead a number of times, but they always fought hard. I am happy how we played, tough and aggressive for the win.” Bryant also knew the importance of coming home with a victory, “Each week is an opportunity to play better and we got better in the second half. Hopefully we can carry it into the game against Barcelona.” Last but definitely not least Scottie Wilbekin who just returned to continental play after missing last week’s game gave his two cents about the win, “This was a good win but we could have been better especially on defense but we lost the last two games on the road so it was good to get one away.”
A) A number of players returned the fold for Maccabi after being out with injuries including Scottie Wilbekin, Othello Hunter and Nate Wolters. Wilbekin looked good although he shot only 1/5 from 2 point range, Hunter scored only one point and grabbed six boards while Wolters didn’t score in 8 minutes of play. But I’ll say this I wouldn’t be worried an ounce as the players are getting back into okaying shape after being out of action. Give them time and they’ll all produce once again, that I’m sure about.
Jake Cohen was the last player summoned by Ioannis Sfairopoulos to the court and he definitely didn’t let that both him as he scored a trio of triples for the Yellow & Blue. After a terrific game last week and after winning the Israeli League MVP it was surprising to see Cohen wait so long to get into the game. But I guess it was well worth it as he ended the game with 11 points scoring critical baskets when his team needed it most.