MACCABI TEL AVIV swingman Devin Smith (6) had a game-high 22 points – to go along with seven rebounds, two assists and two blocks – in last night’s 79-63 victory for the yellow-and-blue over Sardinian side Dinamo Sassari in Euroleague action at Yad Eliyahu Arena..
(photo credit: ADI AVISHAI)
As the rumors about potential successors arise, Maccabi Tel Aviv coach Guy Goodes made some gutsy changes to his normal rotation, and it paid off in a huge way for his side, with a 79-63 yellow-and-blue victory.
With both teams entering the match with a 0-2 Euroleague record, Maccabi could not ask for a better chance to get its first win and it didn’t disappoint in front of its fans.
With his job on the line, Goodes made some key changes in his rotation, Jordan Farmar and Taylor Rochestie saw few minutes, 17-year-old Dragan Bender did not take the floor at all, while Yogev Ohayon and Devin Smith took much of the burden on offense.
Former Maccabi player Joe Alexander took the lid off the rim for Sassari, in what was a sloppy opening few minutes for both sides.
Tel Aviv could not control the defensive glass, nor keep Sassari off the three-point-line, and the visitors took an early 11-4 lead.
While the hosts did not make it hard on the Sardinians with their defense, Smith kept them within striking distance on the other end. Sassari kept a twopoint edge to finish the quarter up 17-15.
Tel Aviv came out to the second with a full-court pressure defense, and the new-found intensity yielded quick results.
A Smith three-point shot after a crisp passing sequence saw Maccabi take its first lead 2:30 minutes into the second quarter (22-20). With four minutes left in the half, Farmar’s assist to a Brian Randle layup took Maccabi’s lead to 29-22, and the full-capacity crowd in Yad Eliyahu made its presence felt.
However, the yellow-andblue could not translate the momentum into a larger lead, and consecutive Sassari threes made it a one-point game (32- 31) with 1:55 minutes left in the quarter.
A Christian Eyenga’s fastbreak layup gave the lead back to the visitors, however another Smith triple made sure the lead returned to Maccabi (35- 33) heading into the break.
Sassari center Jarvis Varnado leveled the score in the first possession of the second half, and the seesaw battle continued between the clubs.
The action turned physical, and a couple of dives on the floor from Smith, along with his fourth and fifth three point makes, saw Maccabi’s lead creeping back up to eight (53-45) with 2:07 minutes left in the third. Tel Aviv’s defense carried it to a 22-14 quarter, and a double-digit lead, (57- 47) heading into the final ten minutes.
At the start fourth, Ohayon pushed Maccacbi’s lead further (61-47) with a jump-shot to beat the shot-clock, and the hosts seemed to be just fine with their star-player Farmer still on the bench.
A Sylvain Landesberg three with 4:53 left on the clock made it 68-52 and forced Sassari coach Romeo Sacchetti to call a timeout, with the game slipping away from his side.
The Sardinians’ last effort to close the gap was too little too late, and Maccabi celebrated its first Euroleague victory of the rocky early start to the continental season.
Smith had his imprint all over the game with 22 points, while Ohayon had 10 points complemented by six assists.
Eyenga led Sassari with 21 points.