Israeli teams were busy in their respective European basketball campaigns in this week’s action, which saw Maccabi Tel Aviv lose in Turkey, Hapoel Jerusalem knocked out of the Champions League and Ness Ziona picking up its maiden win at the FIBA Europe Cup bubble in Poland.
Maccabi Tel Aviv fell 82-75 to Fenerbahce in Gameday 22 of the Euroleague season as its record fell to 10-12 on the season. The yellow-and-blue played the Turkish squad neck-and-neck throughout the first half, but Nando De Colo, Jan Vesely, Marko Guduric and Dyshawn Pierre all came up big to cancel out Elijah Bryant and Scottie Wilbekin to take the seven-point win for Igor Kokoskov’s team.
Vesely led the way for Fenerbahce with 18 points, De Colo added 16 points and Pierre scored 15 points in the win. Bryant put in 18 points for Maccabi, Wilbekin chipped in with 15 points and 10 assists as Tyler Dorsey scored nine points in the loss.
“We had a good fight against Fenerbahce, but lately they have played really well,” explained Maccabi coach Ioannis Sfairopoulos. “In some crucial moments, small things, the small details weren’t on our side. We allowed easy points and they scored 46 in the second half. It was very difficult to stay in the game. We tried to come back with shots from outside, but Fener has very experienced players, they know how to play in these moments and they won with their defense.”
Dorsey looked back at the defeat as well.
“I think we played a good, hard-fought game. I think it just came down to getting stops in the fourth quarter and we just didn’t get those stops. We were right there all night, but Pierre hit a lot of tough shots in a row which gave them that lead they needed late. From there, it was hard to climb back into the game with not much time at the end.”
Maccabi’s game against Anadolu EFES slated for Thursday was postponed due to the Turkish club being unable to land in Israel due to the closure of Ben-Gurion Airport.
Meanwhile, in France, Limoges shocked Hapoel Jerusalem 88-83 to eliminate the Reds from the Basketball Champions League.
Dainius Adomaitis’s squad had a chance to punch its ticket to the Playoff round after Turk Telekom defeated Igokea 94-86 in Ankara, but the loss sent Jerusalem packing from continental play.
The Reds kept the contest tight throughout, but with the score 81-81 Marcus Ginyard hit a three-pointer and Speedy Smith scored a layup and free-throws to notch the victory for Limoges as Hapoel finished a disappointing 2-4 record in group stage play.
Nicolas Lang and Jerry Boutsiele scored 19 points apiece, Smith put in 10 points and dished out 13 assists and Hugo Invernizzi added 17 points in the win.
J’Covan Brown led Jerusalem with 21 points, Suleiman Braimoh added 16 points and 11 rebounds as TaShawn Thomas chipped in with 13 points in the loss.
“First of all, basketball is a game you need to play with very good concentration especially individually defensively,” said Jerusalem’s new coach Adomaitis. “We made too many mental mistakes defensively against their shooters. Our discipline on both defensively and offensively was not good enough, especially when we took the lead, and that is when we needed to have concentration and we didn’t do that well.”
Veteran guard Chris Kramer also reflected on the defeat.
“This one hurts. One of the worst things in basketball is when you don’t control your destiny completely. We had to win and get some help and at the end of the day, we didn’t do our part. We need to do better.”
Over in Poland, Ness Ziona downed Sporting CP 86-81 to get its FIBA Europe Cup campaign under way with a hard-earned victory.
Brad Greenberg’s squad held a six-point lead at halftime, but the Lisbon-based squad used a 27-16 third-quarter run to go ahead with just 10 minutes left in the game.
However, intelligent and gutsy play by Patrick Miller, Tal Dunne and Lior Carreira helped Ness Ziona overcome the deficit to snatch the win despite being outrebounded 48-31 and only shooting 3-of-22 from beyond the arc.
Miller and Wayne Selden each scored 17 points, Dunne added 15 points, Jerome Meynisse put in 13 points while Carreira chipped in with 12 points in the win.
Travante Williams led Sporting with 22 points and Micah Downs added 13 points in the loss.
Ness Ziona will play Hungarian squad Szolnoki Olajbanyasz on Thursday afternoon and on Friday it faces bubble-host Arged BMSLAM Stal.
“Sporting is a very hard team to play against, super aggressive – especially on the defensive end,” said Greenberg. “They forced us to make a lot of plays. I have to give our guards a lot of credit for handling Sporting’s pressure for 40 minutes, especially late in the game. We found the energy to come back after we lost the lead, it was a very strong game for us. We hadn’t played in close to four weeks, so responding in the clutch against a strong opponent was a very strong sign for us.”
The MVP of the game, Miller, spoke about the win.
“I’m proud we managed to fight back and get the lead back, got stops and rebounds when it mattered. I managed to get going, picked my game up for my team. It was a hard-fought game, I’m glad we have a day off tomorrow so we can recover and prepare for the two games we have in a row.”