(photo credit: ADI AVISHAI)
After two frustrating defeats last week, Maccabi Tel Aviv returned to winning ways in Euroleague action on Thursday night, easily defeating Olimpia Milano 79-68 at Yad Eliyahu Arena.
The final score didn’t do Maccabi’s dominance justice, with the yellow-andblue taking a 10-point gap (39-29) into the break and remaining ahead by double digits throughout the second half.
Maccabi’s margin reached 21 points early in the fourth quarter, before Milano slightly limited the damage in the closing minutes.
Tel Aviv, which improved to 3-2, had opened its continental campaign with two straight wins for the first time since 2012. But defeats to Olympiacos at home and to Red Star Belgrade in Serbia saw it fall back to .500 before getting back on track against Milano.
Maccabi had six players in double figures, with Deshaun Thomas scoring 14, DeAndre Kane adding 12 and Alex Tyus finishing with a double-double of 12 points and 15 rebounds. Norris Cole, Artsiom Parakhouski and Pierre Jackson each netted 10 points.
Maccabi scored just two three-pointers from 12 attempts, but compensated for that by taking 18 offensive rebounds and turning the ball over only seven times.
“We did a really good job tonight,” said Tyus. “Everybody played well, especially defensively. This was a good win.”
Dairis Bertans had 13 points for Milano, which fell to 1-4.
Next up for Maccabi in Euroleague action is a showdown with Real Madrid and rising superstar Luka Doncic at Yad Eliyahu. Tel Aviv will have an opportunity to prove it can compete with Europe’s best, something coach Neven Spahija believes his team can do should it register further improvement.
“We are still in the beginning of November and I think we can still improve,” said Spahija. “But our third quarter today was our best quarter of the season so far. I think we have to play a little bit better to beat Real Madrid, but no matter what shape we are in, we are going to leave everything on the floor trying to win the game.”
Maccabi had just a four-point edge (18-14) following a tight first 10 minutes on Thursday. It would slowly pull ahead though, taking a 10-point lead into the break. The yellow-and-blue would dominate the second half, establishing a 20-point cushion (60- 40) with 2:30 minutes to play in the third period following Parakhouski’s basket. Milano never came close to mounting a comeback, and Maccabi is already looking forward to next Thursday’s clash with Madrid.
Meanwhile, Hapoel Jerusalem returned home in a relieved mood on Thursday after finally getting off the mark in the Eurocup a day earlier. Jerusalem eked out a 63-61 win at Reggio Emilia to improve to 1-3.
“We all understood how important this game was for us,” said Jerusalem coach Fotis Katsikaris. “We had a very bad start in the competition with three losses and a lot of ups and downs in our games. And the worst problem we had was our defense. We were allowing almost 90 points, which is a huge number if you want to compete and win games and to be a winning team. Also we had a loss in our league with not playing very good defense last Sunday. This was the game for us to react. To react and stay alive. We changed our defense. I really, really like that we fought until the last second playing hard on defense.
“We know that in basketball psychology can hurt you a lot when you miss some easy baskets and have to run back and play defense,” added the Greek coach. “So I hope this will be a start for us. I hope that everybody on the team understands what we have to do.”
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