Maccabi Tel Aviv’s Devin Smith.
(photo credit: ADI AVISHAI)
Maccabi Tel Aviv’s offensive weapons were misfiring for much of Thursday night, but the yellow-and-blue’s defensive play ensured it got its Euroleague Top 16 campaign up and running.
The defending champion beat Red Star Belgrade 78-67 at Yad Eliyahu Arena, controlling the fourth quarter after a tight start to the contest.
The Serbians had kept the game close until the closing stages of the third period, with Maccabi star forward Devin Smith failing to score in the first 30 minutes after receiving the Euroleague’s MVP award for the month of December at the start of the evening.
However, the hosts ended the quarter with a 7-1 run to open a seven-point gap (56-49) before dominating the final 10 minutes.
Smith finally scored his first points of the night at the start of the fourth quarter and his three-pointer opened a 61-52 lead when Belgrade threatened to mount a comeback.
After last week’s dejecting defeat at Panathinaikos, Maccabi improved to 1-1 in the Top 16.
Despite struggling for much of Thursday night, the yellow-andblue will face a far tougher test next week when Spanish powerhouse Barcelona comes to town.
Brian Randle led Maccabi with 16 points and nine rebounds on Thursday, with Sofoklis Schortsanitis finishing with 15 points. Yogev Ohayon was superb with 10 points, eight assists and five rebounds, while Smith ended the night with eight points.
Nikola Kalinic had 18 points for Belgrade, which fell to 0-2.
Earlier Thursday, Maccabi Tel Aviv assistant coach Pini Gershon was announced as the Israel Basketball Association’s new professional director.
Gershon, who will remain at his job with Maccabi, will oversee all professional matters, including the youth academy, and will be the IBA’s top authority on all basketball issues.
BSL Week 15 action will already get underway on Saturday night when Hapoel Jerusalem hosts Hapoel Gilboa/Galil.
Jerusalem has lost five straight BSL games after a 9-0 start to the season, but strengthened the roster this week by signing guard Tywain McKee, who began the season at Oldenburg of the German league.
“Tywain’s addition is necessary due to the extended injury lay-offs of Derwin Kitchen and Bar Timor,” said coach Danny Franco. “His experience combined with his creative ability and toughness will add another dimension to the team.”