Mac TA kick-starts Top 16 with win vs Fener

Yellow-and-Blue thrash Turks 91-73 to improve to 1-2, with Roth playing star role.

MACCABI TEL AVIV guard Ricky Hickman 370 (photo credit: Adi Avishai)
MACCABI TEL AVIV guard Ricky Hickman 370
(photo credit: Adi Avishai)
After playing a combined 27 minutes in Maccabi Tel Aviv’s first 12 Euroleague games of the season, Moran Roth inspired the yellow-and-blue to a crucial 91-73 victory over Fenerbahce Ulker at Nokia Arena on Thursday night.
Maccabi could not afford another defeat after beginning its Top 16 campaign 0-2 and it required an unexpected display by its usually ignored Israeli guard to clinch the win on Thursday.
Roth first entered the game with Maccabi leading by a single point (42-41) with six minutes remaining in the third period and he never left the floor, ending the night with eight points and six assists in 16 minutes.
“This is a massive win we really needed,” said Roth. “I hope we can treat the fans to many more moments like this.”
Ricky Hickman led Maccabi with 24 points, five rebounds and five assists, with Shawn James scoring 22 points for the yellow-and-blue, which improved to 1-2 and visits Khimki Moscow next Friday.
Bo McCalebb, Bojan Bogdanovic and Romain Sato had 15 points each for the Turks, who dropped to 0-3.
Maccabi scored almost at will at the start of the night, with James’s three-point play opening a seven-point gap (16-9) after five-and-a-half minutes.
However, it wouldn’t be long before the yellow-and-blue’s offense began to stall and Fener was down by just two points after the first quarter (23-21) following Bogdanovic’s midcourt buzzer-beater.
It took Tel Aviv almost four minutes to score its first point of the second period, but the visitors were anything but accurate themselves, with Omer Onan’s basket giving the Turks a three-point margin (26- 23), their biggest lead of the first half.
Maccabi rebounded from its scoreless stretch with a quick 8- 0 run, taking a 31-26 advantage thanks to a Yogev Ohayon jumper with 3:25 remaining in the first half.
However, Maccabi could not consolidate its lead, and the score was tied at 36-36 at the break after Ulker’s Mike Batiste scored the final two points of the period.
Maccabi scored the first six points of the second half, but it once more failed to put real distance between itself and the visitors, with Fener refusing to go down without a fight.
Despite playing just 27 total minutes in Maccabi’s Euroleague campaign until Thursday, Tel Aviv coach David Blatt sent Roth into the fray hoping he would spark his team off the bench.
Roth did that, and much more, leading Tel Aviv to the victory.
A Roth jumper capped an 11- 3 run which gave Maccabi a 53- 44 margin and the hosts took a five-point cushion into the final frame (53-48).
Blatt kept his Israeli guard on court throughout the fourth quarter and he repaid him with a game-winning performance.
Six straight points by Hickman took Maccabi’s gap to double-digits (64-54), with a Roth three increasing the margin to 69-57 with six minutes left, a deficit from which Fener could not return.