Maccabi downs ALBA for second straight win
Maccabi Playtika Tel Aviv grabbed its second straight win and boosted its playoffs hopes by downing ALBA Berlin 87-78 in an entertaining Round 20 make-up game on Tuesday night. ALBA led for most of the first quarter but Maccabi surged ahead with a 9-0 run and led 47-39 at the break. The hosts had another strong run, 8-0, to move 65-48 ahead in the third quarter. ALBA fought back to 69-64 early in the fourth and 84-81 with two minutes remaining, but Maccabi found enough offense to complete the job. Scottie Wilbekin guided the hosts with 18 points and 6 assists, while Derrick Williams added 16, Jalen Reynolds and Ante Zizic both scored 14, and Kameron Taylor scored 11. Maodo Lo paced ALBA’s challenge with 18 points, Luke Sikma scored 12 and Yovel Zoosman netted 10 against his former club. Maccabi improves to 9-11, and ALBA is now 6-14.
Lo started hot with 5 fast points, but Maccabi kept pace through Williams and Keenan Evans. Ben Lammers scored twice, including a three-point play, and Lo netted again for a 7-12 lead. Zoosman, Taylor and Wilbekin were all on target from long-range before a driving score from Zoosman kept ALBA ahead, 15-19. Wilbekin and Reynolds tied things up, and the scoring was evenly traded as the first quarter ended 23-23. A jump hook from Reynolds to start the second provided Maccabi’s first lead, and he soon added three more scores for a 34-25 advantage. Lo reignited ALBA and Christ Koumadje scored three times underneath the basket, but a triple from Wilbekin and an alley-oop jam from Williams kept Maccabi ahead. Zizic added a pair of baskets, and it was 47-39 at half-time.
Lammers and Taylor traded two-point scores to start the second half, before Williams gave Maccabi a double-digit lead with a triple, 52-41. Zizic and Zoosman scored inside, before a triple from Zoosman was bettered by a dunk from Williams and layup from Wilbekin, 59-48. Reynolds, Taylor and John Di Bartolomeo extended the lead to 65-48, before Sikma revived ALBA with a three-pointer. Free throws and another Sikma basket made it 67-58 after three quarters. Jaleen Smith and Reynolds traded baskets early in the fourth, before Louis Olinde’s triple made it 69-64. Wilbekin and Zizic sent Maccabi further ahead, 76-66, midway through the final period. Evans protected the lead with a triple, before threeballs from Sikma and Lo gave ALBA hope, 79-76, with two minutes left. But Evans produced a two-handed slam before Di Bartolomeo and Williams triples sealed the deal.
Maccabi restricts ALBA’s long-range shooting
Maccabi came into the game with the league’s worst defense against three-point shooting, allowing its opponents to convert 38.2% of their three-point shots. ALBA ranked third in three-point shots attempted with 23 per game, but on this occasion Maccabi did a good job in restricting the visiting team’s ability to find shooting space on the perimeter. ALBA did manage to knock down 53.9% of its triples, but that was just 7 conversions on 13 attempts – by far the lowest number of three-point shots attempted by the German team so far the season (the next-lowest was 18 against FC Bayern Munich in October).
Zoosman shows up strong, Blatt struggles
After coming through Maccabi’s youth system and spending six years in the senior team with 79 EuroLeague appearances, Yovel Zoosman made his first return to Menora Mivtachim Arena as a visiting player. And the ALBA Berlin forward produced a strong performance, scoring 10 points on 4-of-6 field goal shooting and also providing 3 assists. Another ALBA player with strong Maccabi connections, Tamir Blatt, did not fare so well. The son of Maccabi’s title-winning coach David Blatt scored 0 points, dished 4 assists and committed 3 turnovers in 13 minutes on a court he knows very well.
Taylor bids fond farewell
Maccabi’s win over ALBA featured a solid show from Kameron Taylor in what proved to be his last game with the club for a while. Taylor contributed 11 points on 4-of-6 two-point shooting and 1-of-3 three-pointers, along with 1 rebound and 2 steals before fouling out after 23 minutes on the floor. Immediately after the game, Maccabi announced that Taylor has been loaned to French club Strasbourg for the rest of the season, with that move coming on the same day Maccabi signed shooting guard Khryi Thomas from Bilbao Basket in Spain.
Tuesday, January 25, 2022