Maccabi Tel Aviv’s forward Devin Smith..
(photo credit: NOAM GALAI/MACCABI TEL AVIV)
Maccabi Tel Aviv ended the Euroleague regular season on a sweet note on Thursday night, beating Unicaja Malaga 81-73 at Nokia Arena to end Group B in second place with a 7-3 record.
Maccabi will enter the Top 16 on the back of five wins from its last six continental contests after clinching Thursday’s triumph with a late 8-0 run.
The yellow-and-blue will find out on Friday night the identity of all seven teams it will face in Top 16 Group E, which gets underway in two weeks.
“I’m pleased with our regular season, but I know we will have to play much better to succeed in the Top 16,” said Maccabi coach Guy Goodes.
Devin Smith capped a sensational regular season with another superb performance, finishing with 22 points, nine rebounds and six assists.
Jeremy Pargo added 16 points for Maccabi, which won despite hitting just 7-of-24 three-point attempts and 4-of-11 free throws.
Jayson Granger led Malaga (4-6) with 11 points.
Maccabi got off to a stunning start, with Smith and Brian Randle scoring six points each in a 14-0 run in the first four minutes of the contest.
However, Malaga fought back, going on a 10-2 surge to close within three points (21-18). The hosts still held a four-point gap (26-22) at the end of the first period, but the Spaniards completed their comeback midway through the second frame, with a Jon Stefansson three pointer giving the visitors a 32-30 lead.
Tel Aviv nevertheless held a four-point edge (41-37) at the halftime break, a gap it would also take into the final 10 minutes (58-54).
A Caleb Green triple brought the visitors within two points (69-67) with 3:24 minutes to play, but Smith ensured they came no closer by hitting two consecutive threes and Maccabi ended the regular season with a smile.