Maccabi fends off ALBA for winning start
Maccabi Playtika Tel Aviv got the new 2020-21 season off to a winning start by holding off visiting ALBA Berlin 80-73 on Thursday night. Maccabi used a 25-2 second-quarter run to rally from a double-digit deficit and take control of the game. Maccabi never relinquished its lead behind Angelo Caloiaro who scored 13 of his team-high 18 points in the second half. Chris Jones had a great EuroLeague debut with 12 points and 7 assists, while Othello Hunter collected 12 points and 6 rebounds in the victory. Marcus Eriksson netted 18 points for ALBA and Simone Fontecchio had 16 points plus 8 rebounds. Peyton Siva added 10 points and 7 assists and Jayson Granger scored 10 points in a losing effort.
The teams traded baskets early with Eriksson sinking a pair of triples for ALBA, while Caloiaro and Wilbekin connected from downtown for the hosts. A three-pointer from Tyler Dorsey made it 15-14, but Fontecchio answered with a triple followed with a low-post left-handed basket. After Ben Lammers added to ALBA's tally, Fontecchio scored 6 more points to lead 19-29 after the first quarter. Niels Giffey increased the margin to 12 points in the opening minute of the second quarter, before Maccabi went on a massive 25-2 charge. First, it was Wilbekin who fueled an 11-0 run with the help of Hunter and Jones. Then, it was a 14-0 run that started with a triple from Jones followed by three-point plays from Dorsey, Sandy Cohen and Caloiaro to open a 43-33 advantage. Eriksson snapped ALBA's drought from long range and Siva's triple made it 49-41 at halftime.
Granger opened the third quarter with back-to-back threes and had 8 points to bring ALBA within 51-49. Ante Zizic and Oz Blayzer got Maccabi going as the teams stepped up their defensive intensity. Johannes Thiemann and Siva kept ALBA close, but Caloiaro and Elijah Bryant combined to score 10 points and open a 67-58 lead going into the fourth quarter. Caloiaro kept working and had another pair of baskets before Bryant stole the ball from Siva for an easy dunk to make it 75-60 with 7 minutes to go. ALBA was not going to go away as Siva and Eriksson answered with back-to-back threes, but Maccabi remained in control. After Bryant and Fontecchio traded triples, ALBA turned to full-court pressure as its last resort, but Maccabi also stood tall on defense, not allowing any easy looks. The visitors got within 78-73 from the free-throw line with 64 seconds to go, but did not score again as Maccabi held on for the victory.
ALBA was in control 19-31 when Maccabi took it up a couple of notches on defense, as stops led to fast breaks and transition baskets. Maccabi first scored 11 unanswered points and then made a 14-0 run to take a 44-33 lead. Its 25-2 run lasted 6 minutes and 25 seconds.
Chris Jones made his EuroLeague debut and impressed with 12 points and 7 assists. All of his points came in the first half and 4 of his assists came in the second half.
Perfect free throws
It does not happen often that two teams do not miss a single free throw. Maccabi was 11 for 11 and ALBA 10 for 10 from the line. Eight different players shot at least 1 free throw in this contest, and no one missed!
Fontecchio's EuroLeague return
ALBA 24-year old forward Simone Fontecchio entered this game with 17 EuroLeague appearances over three seasons from 2016 to 2019, during which he scored a total of 33 points and had a total performance index rating of 13. He never had more than 8 points in a game and the last time he scored a basket was in March 2017. Fontecchio shined for ALBA in the season opener with 16 points and 8 rebounds for a game-high PIR of 27.
Next week in Round 2, Maccabi travels to face CSKA Moscow, while ALBA will hosts FC Bayern Munich in an all-German clash.
Thursday, October 1, 2020