Tyus stars to keep Maccabi alive
Maccabi FOX Tel Aviv kept its playoff hopes alive by thrashing Herbalife Gran Canaria 90-55 on Thursday night at Menora Mivtachim Arena. Alex Tyus shined with a career-high 20 points on 9-of-11 shooting to lift Maccabi's record to 14-15 and – at least temporarily – putting it even with eighth place. Scottie Wilbekin added 12 points, Johnny O'Bryant had 11 and Tarik Black and Deni Avdija netted 10 apiece, with that number representing a personal best for the latter. Maccabi never trailed, opening the game on a 10-2 tear and never looking back. The hosts set a club record for rebounds in dominating the glass 55-31. D.J. Strawberry paced Gran Canaria with 11 points in defeat as his team saw its record fall to 8-21.
Maccabi got five baskets from as many different players in storming out to a 10-2 start. Wilbekin heated up to give the hosts a double-digit lead. Albert Oliver came off the bench to show off a nifty move for the visitors, but a Michael Roll-to-Black alley-oop slam left Maccabi ahead 21-9 after 10 minutes. Tyus got going in the second quarter, though some spirited play from Khalifa Diop helped Gran Canaria keep the deficit from growing. A 7-0 spurt saw the Israeli champs jump ahead 34-18 by the midway point of the quarter. Aleksander Balcerowski blocked a shot on one end and sank a three at the other as Gran Canaria continued to battle. A deep three by Wilbekin sent the teams to halftime with Maccabi in control 48-30. The Maccabi frontline of Black and O'Bryant boosted their side's margin into the 20s early in the second half. Strawberry's excellent outside shooting gave Gran Canaria hope at 55-39 midway through the third quarter. Avdija scored twice in the final 2 minutes of the quarter as did Clevin Hannah as the sides parted ways at 64-45 through 30 minutes. John DiBartolomeo drained a deep three-pointer to cap a 9-1 start to the fourth that extended the difference to 27. Avdija scored the final 4 points of the game to give Maccabi its largest lead of the game in the final seconds.
For the second week in a row, Maccabi set a club rebounding record. In Round 28 Maccabi established a new standard for the club with 54. Against Gran Canaria, it bettered that number by 1. The 55 boards are tied for the fourth-most ever in competition history and the three above it were all games that went to overtime.
Did you notice?
Maccai played with only 11 players – guard DeAndre Kane was out of the country due to personal reasons – and all of them spent at least 12 minutes on the floor and scored at least 1 basket. Ten of them had multiple rebounds, nine delivered at least 1 assist and seven guys made free throws.
Next generation talents on display
The two teams accomplished youth departments were on display with three talented teenagers in this game. Gran Canaria's 17-year-old center Khalifa Diop made his EuroLeague debut and contributed 3 points and 4 rebounds in 7 minutes. Fellow big man Aleksander Balcerowski, 19, posted 3 points, 3 boards, 1 steals and 1 block in 15 minutes. Maccabi's precocious forward, 18-year-old Deni Avdija, took advantage of the lopsided score to rack up 10 points and 5 rebounds for a performance index rating of 14 in just 12 minutes. All numbers were personal bests.
Both teams are on the road to finish the regular season. Maccabi visits Fenerbahce Beko Istanbul in a game it must win to have a shot at the postseason. Gran Canaria heads to Germany to clash with FC Bayern Munich.
Thursday, March 28, 2019