Maccabi downs Zvezda in overtime
Maccabi FOX Tel Aviv gained its first win of the season by downing Crvena Zvezda mts Belgrade 84-69 after overtime in its home opener at a sold-out and raucous Menora Mivtachim Arena. Maccabi was unstoppable in the opening stages to establish an early double-digit advantage and the lead stayed around the 10-point mark until Zvezda launched a mighty fourth-quarter comeback to force an extra period. But overtime completely belonged to Maccabi, with Scottie Wilbekin scoring 8 of his total of 16 points to secure the home win. Omri Casspi delivered an all-round masterclass by combining 15 points, 8 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals and 8 fouls drawn, while Nate Wolters scored 15 points and Tarik Black added 11. Stratos Perperoglou was the shining light for Zvezda with 18 points and Ognjen Dobric added 10 points. The outcome leaves both teams with 1-2 records.
Black and Wolters opened the scoring from close range, and a triple from Wolters forced Zvezda into a timeout at 9-2. A three-point play from Casspi and another Black bucket stretched the lead to double figures before Perperoglou finally ended a 13-0 run with a much-needed long two-pointer and then a triple. Two more baskets from Perperoglou reduced the deficit to single figures before Black’s three-point play made it 25-13 after 10 minutes. A big dunk from Deni Avdija and a Wolters layup protected the lead early in the second quarter and Wilbekin’s triple made it 33-19. Another deep strike from the outstanding Perperoglou boosted Zvezda, but a close-range strike from Casspi helped make it 39-30 at the break.
Wolters and Casspi scored again from close-range early in the third, and Maccabi continued to dominate in a phase of slow scoring. A four-point play from Perperoglou briefly pulled it back to 47-41, but Tyler Dorsey immediately answered from deep and it was 55-47 at the end of the third. A floater from Wolters followed by layups from Wilbekin and Yovel Zoosman appeared to make Maccabi safe, but a pair of three-pointers from Filip Covic kept Zvezda hoping at 63-55. A flurry of free throws at both ends followed, before Dobric’s triple edged Zvezda closer at 67-62 with 4 minutes remaining. Dobric scored two more baskets for a 1-point game and Maccabi started to look nervous, committing several turnovers. Michael Ojo tied it up, 67-67, by completing a 2-12 run from the foul line with 85 seconds left. There was no more scoring in regulation. Wilbekin started overtime with a triple and a pair of free throws before close-range finishes from Othello Hunter and Wolters made it 76-69. Maccabi would not let the lead slip this time, cruising the rest of the way as Wilbekin netted another triple.
Happy birthday Mr President!
The game was preceded by an emotional on-court celebration for Maccabi President Shimon Mizrahi, who celebrated his 80th birthday with the help of several special guests including Euroleague Basketball President and CEO Jordi Bertomeu, and the President of Israel, Reuven Rivlin. Maccabi fans also joined the tribute with a wholehearted ovation for their long-serving president, who has been at the helm for Maccabi since 1969.
Fast start propels Maccabi
Perhaps fired up by the fabulous pre-game atmosphere, Maccabi simply blew Zvezda away in the opening stages. With 5 minutes played, Maccabi led 15-2 after converting 5 of 5 two-point shots, gaining 5 rebounds and making 6 assists. Zvezda, by contrast, had made just 1 of 5 two-point attempts with 1 rebound and 1 assist. The visitors needed a long time to recover from that early battering.
Strong D shackles Zvezda
After that superb offensive start, Maccabi leaned heavily on intense defense to finish the job. The home team’s athleticism and hustle inside the paint restricted Zvezda to just 11-of-34 shooting on two-pointers (32.4%), with no visiting player other than Stratos Perperoglou (4 of 6) scoring more than 2 twos. Most importantly, in crunch time, Zvezda did not score a single field goal in overtime.
Milestone for Jenkins
Veteran Zvezda guard Charles Jenkins achieved a personal milestone by scoring his 1,000th point in the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague. The 30-year-old, who was making his 140th appearance in the competition, reached the mark from the foul line in the third quarter.
Zvezda returns to Belgrade to welcome FC Barcelona next Thursday evening, while Maccabi stays at home in Round 4 to face visiting Valencia Basket.
Thursday, October 17, 2019