Ugly win good enough for Mac Tel Aviv

Yellow-and-blue struggles against Galatasaray but ultimately ekes out victory at Yad Eliyahu.

April 3, 2015 07:11
2 minute read.
Maccabi Tel Aviv’s Brian Randle

Maccabi Tel Aviv’s Brian Randle. (photo credit: ADI AVISHAI)


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Maccabi Tel Aviv was forced to work harder than expected on Thursday night on the way to an 81-72 victory over Galatasaray in Euroleague Top 16 action at Yad Eliyahu Arena.

Maccabi was desperate for the win after losing four of its previous six continental contests and ultimately improved to 8-5 in Group E, but not before overcoming a spirited display by the Turkish team.

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Galatasaray had lost its past nine games in the Top 16, with its financial struggles already resulting in the premature exit of six players, including star guard Carlos Arroyo. Turkish coach Ergin Ataman looked like he was on strike in the first quarter, barely leaving his seat and not even talking to his players during a timeout.

However, Maccabi only finally clinched the win in the fourth quarter thanks to a 10-0 run which opened a 68-58 lead.

Devin Smith led Maccabi with 22 points, eight rebounds and five assists, with Brian Randle adding 19 points and Alex Tyus finishing with 17 points and eight boards.

Kerem Gonlum had 18 points for Gala.

Maccabi, which will complete its Top 16 schedule at Alba Berlin next week, could have already booked its place in the quarterfinals with a Panathinaikos victory over Alba late Thursday night. Panathinaikos led Berlin by seven points (40- 33) at press time.

Maccabi surely thought it was on its way to a straightforward win after an Alex Tyus dunk opened a double-digit margin (19-9) with three minutes to play in the first quarter.

However, Ender Arslan’s three-pointer to end the first period tied the score at 23-23 and there was little to separate the teams for the remainder of the night. Maccabi took a one-point edge (43-42) into the second half and looked to be well placed when it led 58-53 entering the final quarter.

Galatasaray scored the first five points of the period to level the score, but a 10-0 run (68- 58), capped by a Smith basket, finally completed the job for Maccabi.

Elsewhere Thursday, Hapoel Tel Aviv won its first game since the shock and untimely passing of team manager Uri Shelef earlier this week, beating Maccabi Ashdod 95-86 in BSL action.

It was an extremely emotional night at Hapoel’s Drive-In Arena, with the game being preceded by a special ceremony honoring Shelef, who passed away on Sunday from a cardiac arrest at the age of 43.

Several of the Hapoel players, including coach Oded Katash and captain Matan Naor, were in tears during the ceremony, but they gathered themselves for the game, which was postponed from Monday due to Shelef’s tragic passing.

The hosts were in front by just two points (71-69) entering the final 10 minutes, but scored 22 of the first 28 points of the fourth frame to secure the win and improve to 14-11, moving tied with Hapoel Holon in third place in the BSL standings.

Larry O’Bannon led Hapoel with 25 points, seven rebounds and five assists, while James Nunnally had 22 points for Ashdod, which fell to 7-18, tied with Hapoel Gilboa/Galil for the worst record in the league.

“This was a very difficult night for us,” said Katash. “I didn’t really talk to the players about basketball before the game or at halftime. It was very hard to coach a game without Uri sitting behind me.”

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