Maccabi Tel Aviv guard Pierre Jackson (left) had 21 points in last night’s 94-91 win over Valencia at Yad Eliyahu Arena..
(photo credit: ADI AVISHAI)
Maccabi Tel Aviv will enter arguably its most difficult stretch of the Euroleague regular season brimming with confidence after moving three games over .500 for the first time this season with a 94-91 victory over Valencia at Yad Eliyahu Arena on Thursday night.
Maccabi improved to a 7-4 record after going on a run in the fourth quarter and surviving a late comeback by a shorthanded Valencia, which almost forced overtime through an Erick Green three-pointer at the buzzer.
Maccabi next faces Euroleague leader CSKA Moscow, which improved to 9-2 on Thursday with a 92-76 win over Brose Bamberg.
Four days after Friday’s game in Russia, the yellow-and-blue visits Greek powerhouse Panathinaikos before hosting reigning champion Fenerbahce on Thursday to cap the tough seven-day stretch.
Pierre Jackson led Maccabi with 21 points on Thursday, with Deshaun Thomas adding 20 points for the yellow-and-blue, which shot 66.7 percent from two-point range. Artsiom Parakhouski netted 14 points while Norris Cole added 12 for the yellow- and-blue.
Erick Green scored 24 points for Valencia, which dropped to 3-8 with its seventh straight loss.
“I’m really unhappy with our defense. I didn’t like it but I can’t complain. This is the Euroleague and every win is important,” said Maccabi coach Neven Spahija.
“We can’t always win like we want.”
Maccabi scored the final five points of the first quarter to open a four-point edge (25-21) and John DiBartolomeo’s basket to start the second period took the margin to six points, the biggest either team held in the first half.
Despite missing five players, including center Bojan Dubljevic, Valencia wouldn’t allow Tel Aviv to establish a significant gap and the yellow-and-blue needed a Parakhouski basket at the end of the half to ensure the score would be tied at the break (46-46).
Valencia ended the first half without committing a single turnover, but Maccabi upped its intensity at the start of the third quarter and six straight Jackson points followed by a Michael Roll basket and Jonah Bolden’s first points of the night opened a nine-point cushion (57-48). Veteran Spanish forward Fernando San Emeterio would not allow the hosts to surge ahead though, bringing his team back within striking distance with five straight points.
Maccabi remained in front for the rest of the frame, but was ahead by only four points (69-65) entering the final 10 minutes.
The teams were only separated by three points until a fortuitous Thomas three-pointer with 3:40 minutes to play sparked an 8-2 run, capped by another triple by the American forward that opened a nine-point margin (88-79) which Valencia couldn’t erase with less than two minutes to play, even though it would come close, with Green’s triple only centimeters wide.