Maccabi wins again in Berlin
Maccabi FOX Tel Aviv retained its place among the teams with the best four records in the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague after beating ALBA Berlin 89-95 on Thursday at Mercedes-Benz Arena in the German capital. Elijah Bryant starred with a personal-best 19 points on 5-of-6 three-point shooting plus 8 rebounds and 4 assists in helping lift the Israeli champs to 12-6 in the standings The victory was the 100th for Coach Ioannis Sfairopoulos in his EuroLeague career. It was also Maccabi's sixth straight win over ALBA in Berlin. Jalen Reynolds shined with 17 points and 7 rebounds, Scottie Wilbekin tallied 15 points and 5 assists and Jake Cohen added 11 points. Martin Hermannsson paced the home team with 16 points, Marcus Eriksson added 12, Rokas Giedraitis scored 11 and Luke Sikma and Niels GIffey 10 apiece. Sikma also collected 12 rebounds and 5 assists. The loss saw ALBA's record drop to 5-13.
After Eriksson opened the scoring with a three-pointer, both offenses started to flow with the lead switching hands several times. Bryant had the hot hand for Maccabi with 8 points – including a pair of three-pointers, the second of which tied the game at 12-12 after 4 minutes. Sikma and Wilbekin became focal points on offense for their respective teams with little separating them. Deni Avdija made a pair of threes to tie it again at 23-23. Avdija scored 5 more points and Reynolds added a three-point play in a 0-8 run that put the visitors ahead 26-31. Giedraitis free throws made it 28-31 after 10 minutes. Reynolds and Tyler Dorsey each scored twice in a 0-10 Maccabi push that gave the visitors a double-digit lead, 29-41. Giedraitis stopped the run with free throws and Landry Nnoko tried to solidify the ALBA defense with a pair of blocked shots. Back-to-back threes by Makai Mason closed the gap to 39-45 and prompted a Maccabi timeout. The pep talk from the coach did little to get the Maccabi offense back on track and Tyler Cavanaugh's hook shot completed a 10-0 ALBA march to get within 43-45. Bryant's fourth three-pointer of the half gave his team a 45-50 edge at the break.
Bryant picked up where he left off with another three to start the second half and Reynolds added to the lead as the visitors extended the margin to 50-59. Jake Cohen hit a pair of threes and Reynolds continued to party in the paint as the lead reached 15. Just when it seemed Maccabi had the game in its hands, ALBA reeled off 9 straight points – the highlight of which was a monster slam by Giedraitis over Avdija – and the third quarter ended with ALBA still in the hunt at 64-72. Jake Cohen restored a double-digit Maccabi advantage with a slam, but ALBA kept coming back; Eriksson's 100th career triple made it 70-76. Jake Cohen knocked down another three-pointer and Wilbekin drew a foul shooting a three-pointer and made the resulting 3 free throws for a 74-85 cushion. ALBA kept answering and another 9-0 run, in which Johannes Thiemann scored twice and Hermannsson closed with a triple, made it 86-90 with 24.3 seconds remaining. Quincy Acy and Hunter knocked down free throws to put the game on ice.
Elijah Bryant thoroughly dominated for Maccabi with 19 points on near-perfect shooting. The rookie swingman tied his personal best in scoring while setting new highs in three-pointers made (5), rebounds (8) and performance index rating (29). He also contributed 4 assists. Bryant did much of his scoring damage early with 11 first-quarter points, but even in the fourth quarter, though he did not score, he made an impact with an assist and 3 rebounds.
The teams were very close in many statistical areas and even finished with identical team performance index ratings of 106. The big difference between them was three-point shooting; while the hosts were 7 for 28 (25%), Maccabi made twice as many with fewer attempts (27) for a 51.9% success rate. Six different Maccabi men hit from downtown with Elijah Bryant (5), Jake Cohen (3) and Scottie Wilbekin (2) all making multiple threes.
100 EuroLeague wins for Sfairopoulos
The victory was the 100th for Maccabi head coach Ioannis Sfairopoulos in his EuroLeague career. He won 75 games in his four seasons with Olympiacos Piraeus and now has 25 in a season and a half with Maccabi.
Back from the injured lists
A pair of ALBA players and one from Maccabi made their returns after missing time with injuries. Peyton Siva and Johannes Thiemann each missed the last three games. Siva played 13 minutes and contributed 4 points and 6 assists. Thiemann was worth 7 points and 3 boards in almost as much playing time. Nate Wolters missed five games for Maccabi with a hamstring injury and played 8 minutes in his return.
Both teams return to action on Tuesday, January 14 for their first games of January’s two-round week. ALBA will visit Greece to take on Olympiacos Piraeus, while Maccabi will take on FC Barcelona at home.
Thursday, January 9, 2020