Maccabi grabs road win as ASVEL suffers first loss
Maccabi Playtika Tel Aviv handed LDLC ASVEL Villeurbanne its first defeat of the season with a dominant 85-93 road triumph on Thursday night. Maccabi made a fast start and was ahead for nearly all of a high-scoring first half. The visitors maintained a double-digit lead for most of the third quarter and were never less than 8 points in front throughout the final stanza. James Nunnally was the star of the show with 25 points. Jalen Reynolds added 17 points and 5 rebounds, while Keenan Evans and Scottie Wilbekin both scored 13 points. Elie Okobo paced ASVEL with 23 points and Chris Jones netted 14 points against his former team. Maccabi improved to 2-2, while ASVEL dropped to 3-1.
Jones opened the scoring, but Derrick Williams and Angelo Caloiaro responded with corner threes in a 0-8 run, before Wilbekin and Evans scored inside for a 6-12 lead. ASVEL fought back and Dylan Osetkowski capped a 7-0 run with a triple for a 13-12 lead, but Maccabi went on another run, highlighted by a dunk from Reynolds, to go ahead 13-18. After Paul Lacombe and Okobo struck from deep for another lead change, Evans and Nunnally did likewise to make it 21-25 to Maccabi after 10 minutes.
Evans struck another triple to make it 21-30 early in the second and Reynolds made it a double-digit game with a putback slam and one. William Howard and Charles Kahudi halved the deficit, 28-33, but scores from Reynolds, Kameron Taylor and Nunnally kept Maccabi comfortable, 30-39. Nunnally gave the visitors another double-digit lead, but Jones struck a triple and a three-point play to get ASVEL within 38-43. Caloiaro hit a triple but Jones scored again and James Gist made it 42-49 at the break.
Three quickfire scores from Mathias Lessort pushed Maccabi ahead 44-57 early in the second half before the scoring slowed at both ends in a passage of play that saw ASVEL big man Youssoupha Fall foul out. Nunnally extended Maccabi’s lead to 50-64, but 5 points from Matthew Strazel and a putback from Kostas Antetokounmpo gave ASVEL fresh hope. Nunnally stayed hot with consecutive baskets before free throws made it 62-75 after three quarters.
A dunk from Reynolds and another Nunnally layup maintained a strong Maccabi lead early in the fourth before Howard hit a triple and Jones scored inside to boost ASVEL, 71-81, midway through the final stanza. Gist added a dunk, but the home team’s momentum was stopped by a battling basket from Williams, a three from Evans and a turnaround jumper from Reynolds. Okobo scored 5 fast points to make it 80-88, but Wilbekin made a jumper and Nunnally sank a triple to seal the outcome.
Early long-range fireworks fizzle out
LDLC ASVEL Villeurbanne and Maccabi Playtika Tel Aviv were both on fire from long-range in the early stages, with ASVEL making all 4 of its three-point attempts in the first quarter while Maccabi went 4-of-5 from beyond the arc. Those numbers could not be maintained, though, as ASVEL finished with 10 of 18 three-pointers made while Maccabi slipped down to making 10 of 25 three-pointers. A big part of the reason for that was Scottie Wilbekin missing all 8 of his three-point attempts – the first time in 10 games he has failed to make a triple. Maccabi also made an excellent 27 of 36 two-point attempts (75%).
Sfairopoulos trusts his key players
Maccabi PLaytika Tel Aviv coach Ioannis Sfairopoulos relied heavily on a key core of his roster to secure the important victory over LDLC ASVEL Villeurbanne. Roman Sorkin, John DiBartolomeo and Oz Blayzer did not play at all and Iftah Ziv only had 6 seconds on the court. That left eight Maccabi players to fill nearly all the playing time, led by Scottie Wilbekin with 32:41 and James Nunnally with 30:54. Angelo Caloiaro, Derrick Williams and Jalen Reynolds also all spent more than 25 minutes on the floor.
Okobo impresses again for ASVEL
Despite suffering defeat for the first time with his new club, ASVEL guard Elie Okobo delivered another strong performance against Maccabi. The EuroLeague rookie scored 23 points along with 4 rebounds and 4 assists and has now averaged impressive figures of 16.5 points, 4.8 rebounds and 4.5 assists over the first four games of his EuroLeague career. However, one aspect for Okobo to improve in the coming weeks is taking care of the ball after he committed 6 turnovers for the third game in a row.
Thursday, October 14, 2021