Maccabi Tel Aviv got its Euroleague campaign up and running on Thursday night,
beating Red Star Belgrade 96-82 at Nokia Arena to bounce back from last week’s
loss in Spain.
The yellow-and-blue suffered a painful 84-80 setback in
its continental opener at Laboral Vitoria last week and was desperate to finally
show what it is capable of on Thursday.
Maccabi fans were given a taste
of what they can expect this season, with Tel Aviv hitting 15 three-pointers
from 28 attempts and steamrolling Belgrade at certain stages with high-octane
However, Maccabi also struggled for consistency for much of
the night, and it remains to be seen if the yellow-and-blue will be able to
triumph against quality opponents when its shots from beyond the arc don’t fall
An initial answer to that question will be given next week
when Maccabi visits Lokomotiv Kuban in a tough road encounter in
Devin Smith led seven Maccabi players in double figures on
Thursday night, scoring 17 points, with Joe Ingles contributing 16. Shawn James
and Sofoklis Schortsanitis added 13 points each, while David Blu had 11 points
and Ricky Hickman and Yogev Ohayon netted 10 points each.
Marjanovic had 20 points and 13 rebounds for Belgrade, which dropped to 0-2 in
Maccabi’s offensive play was disjointed at the start of the
encounter, but its hard work on the defensive end ensured Belgrade had no real
chance to cause any significant damage.
Ohayon and Ingles carried
Maccabi’s offense early on, but the arena only truly erupted following Blu’s
three-pointer with 1:26 minutes to play in the first period
Maccabi took a seven-point lead (21-14) into the second quarter
and another Blu triple was a hammer’s blow to Red Star’s ambition of recording
an upset in Tel Aviv (24-16).
Maccabi coach David Blatt played for much
of the second period with four deadly shooters on court, with Sofo being joined
by Blu, Smith, Ingles and Sylven Landesberg.
An Ingles three extended the
gap to double digits (30-20) for the first time and another long-range effort by
Smith took the margin to 33-22.
However, a 10-2 run, capped by a Charles
Jenkins dunk, brought the visitors back within three points (35-32) in the final
two minutes of the first half to revive Red Star’s hopes.
Serbians undid all their hard work with sloppy play in the final 1:38 of the
half, with Maccabi going on an 8-0 run, completed by a Hickman layup, to give
the yellow-and-blue a comfy cushion at the break (43-32).
double-figure gap, Blatt was clearly unhappy with his side’s play in the first
20 minutes and the effects of his halftime talk were well evident at the start
of the second half.
Tel Aviv required just three-and-half minutes to all
but wrap up the win, with a James basket increasing the margin to 19 points
(55-36) and securing Maccabi a much-needed confidence boost.
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