Maccabi Tel Aviv loses in Turkey, bringing Euroleague record to 1-7

Hapoel Jerusalem defeated JDA Dijon 86-72 and ran their Basketball Champions League record to 6-1, ending the first round of games as they sit in first place in their group.

Maccabi Tel Aviv players (photo credit: UDI ZITIAT)
Maccabi Tel Aviv players
(photo credit: UDI ZITIAT)
Maccabi Tel Aviv began the Ioannis Sfairopoulos era off on the wrong foot falling in Turkey 90-77 to Anadolu Efes as their Euroleague record fell to 1-7. Johnny O’Bryant led the yellow-and-blue scorers with 19 points while Alex Tyus added 12 points and Scottie Wilbekin chipped in with 10 points and 7 assists in the defeat.
The Istanbul-based squad featured a well-balanced attack as six players scored in double digits with former Bnei Hasharon and Hapoel Holon forward Bryant Dunston doing the most damage by scoring 14 points to lead the way to the victory.
Sfairopoulos, who joined the squad in Istanbul ahead of the game had little time to work with the team but Maccabi played a tough first quarter with plenty of positive energy and aggressiveness as they kept the hosts close, finishing the frame only two points down 16-14. The yellow-and-blue showed defensive promise but struggled offensively as the Efes took a 38-31 at the half. However, it was all downhill from there for the visitor’s as Anadolou wore Maccabi down for the 13-point win.
Fenerbahce will visit Yad Eliyahu this evening at 9:00 p.m. on Gameday 9 as the yellow-and-blue will look for home support to pick up their second win of the continental season. But that won’t be an easy task as Fenerbahce comes into the contest after defeating Darüssafaka 100-79 and sport a 7-1 record so far in this campaign. Former NBA forward Jan Vesely, Greek sharpshooter Kostas Sloukas and Luigi Datome are all offensive threats for the Turkish team as Maccabi plays their second game of the week against an Istanbul-based squad.
Hapoel Jerusalem defeated JDA Dijon 86-72 and ran their Basketball Champions League record to 6-1, ending the first round of games as they sit in first place in their group. Chris Johnson starred for the Reds as the forward scored 17 points and pulled down 6 rebounds, while Tamir Blatt dropped 15 points and added 6 assists and Amare Stoudemire chipped in with 13 points going 5/5 from the field.
Stoudemire was the game changer over the first half as STAT energized the crowd with spectacular dunks and helped Jerusalem to a 48-39 halftime lead. Dijon cut the advantage to just 72-68 midway through the 4th quarter, but coach Oded Katash inserted Blatt back into the game and the guard took control of the contest helping the hosts to the win. Following the win, the former NBA all star spoke exclusively to The Jerusalem Post, “It was a great win for us and we feel pretty confident about the way we are playing, but we still have a little ways to go so we’re still getting better as a team.”
In Israel Basketball League action, Hapoel Eilat traveled up to Jerusalem and took home a dominant 99-83 victory over the Reds. Eilat moved the ball well throughout the contest and dished out 29 assists as they were always one step ahead of Jerusalem in the win. JP Tokoto led the visitors with 22 points, Elijah Bryant added 20 points and 7 rebounds while Lenzelle Smith Jr. flirted with a triple double as he scored 16 points, dished out 9 assists and pulled down 9 rebounds. Da’Sean Butler scored 19 points as J’Covan Brown and Tashawn Thomas each added 14 points in the defeat.
Jerusalem took a 21-20 lead after ten minutes of action but Eilat went on a 12-0 run to end the half to take a 47-37 advantage into the break thanks to quality play by Idan Zalmanson, JP Tokoto and veteran guard Avi Ben Shimol. There was little defense to be found by either squad in the third quarter as Tokoto and Smith Jr. scored at will while Bryant drained 13 points of his own in the final frame to take home the 16-point victory.
Following the victory, Eilat’s fourth in a row, Lenzelle Smith Jr. spoke about how the team is melding together under the influence of coach Sharon Drucker. “We’re finding ourselves,” he said. “We didn’t have an identity as a team. Now as a team we’re trusting each other and we’re listening to Coach Drucker.”
Elijah Bryant also discussed the job Drucker is doing. “It’s a hard job when you have guys that don’t know each other coming together and buy into something they’ve never done,” Drucker said. “There’s a lot of different personalities. You’re managing people that want to score, people who’ve done a lot of stuff at other places. To be able to gather a group of people to fight for one job is testament to him.”
Ness Ziona defeated Hapoel Beersheba 105-84 at home thanks to lethal 3-point shooting by Nadav Zilberstein’s squad. The hosts led throughout the contest and couldn’t miss from beyond the arc, drilling 16 of 24 3-point attempts as one-time NBA player Daequan Cook scored 30 points on the evening, shooting 6/10 from deep.
Hapoel Holon pulled another overtime win out of their hats as they outlasted first place Hapoel Gilboa/Galil 112-106. Down 90-77 at the start of the fourth quarter, Holon rattled off a 12-0 run thanks to fine play by TJ Cline, Amit Simhon and Khaliff Wyatt as Shawn Jones tied up the game at 96-96 thanks to four late points by the young center to send the game into overtime. Once in the extra period, Dan Shamir’s veteran core of Guy Pnini and Wyatt took control and snatched the 6-point victory over Ariel Beit Halachmi’s squad.
Hapoel Tel Aviv won for the first time after five losses in a row when they defeated Maccabi Rishon Lezion 85-62. The Reds led throughout the contest as they raced out to a 19-6 advantage after the first quarter and never looked back. Danny Franco’s squad had seen a number of personnel changes take place over the past week with Rich Howell and Jere McNeal both coming on board, but it was a big night by Alade Aminu that helped take home the win. Aminu’s 21 points and 13 rebounds combined with Tomer Ginat’s 16 points and 7 boards along with Jamal Shuler’s 14 points made all the difference for Hapoel canceling out double-doubles by three Rishon Lezion players.
Maccabi Ashdod visited Ironi Nahariya and took home a 92-86 win. Paul Stoll was the catalyst in the win scoring a tremendous 30 points, dished out 11 assists, stole the ball 6 times and drew 10 fouls while Landon Milbourne added 19 points in the victory. Myke Henry scored 22 points but committed 8 turnovers for Nahariya who led by one point, 77-76 with 4:41 left in the game. However, Ashdod went on a 9-0 run and regained the lead for good as they moved their record to 3-3 with all of their victories coming on the road.