Mac TA off to winning start in Eilat

Yellow-and-blue doesn’t require top form to open BSL season with victory ahead of Euroleague opener.

October 10, 2017 04:25
2 minute read.
Maccabi Tel Aviv forward DeShaun Thomas scores two of his game-high 16 points in last night’s 82-68

Maccabi Tel Aviv forward DeShaun Thomas scores two of his game-high 16 points in last night’s 82-68 win at Hapoel Eilat in BSL action. Maccabi visits Bamberg in its Euroleague opener on Thursday. (photo credit: FRANCISCO DI STASIO/BSL)

Despite opening the BSL campaign with a convincing win, Maccabi Tel Aviv coach Neven Spahija was far from pleased on Monday night.

Maccabi defeated Hapoel Eilat 82-68 on the road to build on its triumph in the preseason Winner Cup last week. But Spahija was hoping for a better performance with the yellow-and-blue to already visit Bamberg in Germany in its first Euroleague game of the season on Thursday.

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Maccabi held an eight-point lead (24-16) after the first quarter and never lost control, with Eilat coming no closer than six points until the end of the night.

DeShaun Thomas led Tel Aviv with 16 points, with John DiBartolomeo continuing his impressive start to life as a Maccabi player with 14 points.

“We felt a little sluggish at the start, but we are a team that sticks together and we won as a team,” said Thomas.

Guards Norris Cole and Pierre Jackson played for the side for the first time after missing the Winner Cup. DeAndre Kane didn’t play once more, but is expected to be fit for the game against Bamberg.

Cole had six points in 17 minutes, while Jackson finished with nine points and six assists in 23 minutes.

“They are our two floor generals and we are excited to have them back,” added Thomas.

“We are very excited to get the Euroleague under way and we want to get a win on the road.”

Spahija’s main concern was the fact that Cole and Jackson combined for nine turnovers.

“To play bad basketball and to win the game is the only good news tonight,” the Croatian said. “It is difficult to bring players back after injury.

Jackson and Cole only had one practice before the game. I think we should be more organized.

You can’t turn the ball over so much.”

Besides Kane, Spahija will also welcome back Michael Roll for the game against Bamberg after he was rested on Monday.

“We are going to try to do our best,” he said. “Roll and Kane will be back and we will have more people in the rotation.

It is important to start with a win, but nobody is going to win or lose the Euroleague in October.”

The Euroleague format is unchanged from last season, with Maccabi to play 30 regular season games, aiming to finish among the top eight and advance to the playoffs.

The winners of the best-offive playoffs will progress to the Final Four, at which the continental champion will be decided.

Maccabi hosts Bnei Herzliya in its next BSL game next Sunday, before welcoming Baskonia of Spain in its first home Euroleague contest four days later.

Veteran Israeli guard Afik Nissim led Eilat with 12 points.

“This game has given us a lot to mull over and showed us we still have a lot to work on,” said new Eilat coach Meir Tapiro. “We are continuing to improve and I hope this is only the beginning.”

Also Monday, Hapoel Gilboa/ Galil defeated Maccabi Ashdod 84-77 in overtime.

Tyler Stone led the winners with 18 points and 10 rebounds.

David Laury had 19 points and 13 rebounds for Ashdod, which is coached by Brad Greenberg, who is back in Israel after previous stints at Maccabi Haifa and Hapoel Jerusalem.

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