Wilbekin's heroics lift Maccabi over Bayern
Maccabi Playtika Tel Aviv opened its 2021-22 Turkish Airlines EuroLeague season with a thrilling 69-68 victory over FC Bayern Munich as Scottie Wilbekin shined in front of a sold-out home crowd with a career-best performance. The Maccabi star matched his career-high of 28 points in carrying his team back from a 9-point deficit in the final 6 minutes. Maccabi needed to shut down Bayern after playing a whirlwind first 15 minutes as the team built a 17-point lead to the pleasure of 11,192 fans at the Menora Mivtachim Arena. John DiBartolomeo added 8 points for the winners. DeShaun Thomas paced Bayern with 15 points, Corey Walden had 14, Othello Hunter 11 and Augustine Rubit chipped in 10 in the loss.
Rubit hit a turn-around jumper for Bayern’s first points of the season while James Nunnally answered with a three-pointer for the hosts’ first score. Wilbekin’s three free throws gave Maccabi its first lead at 8-5 and Keenan Evans converted a three-point play to put Maccabi up 13-8. After Walden sparked Bayern back ahead 13-14, DiBartolomeo and Wilbekin both hit from deep in a 9-2 run and Wilbekin’s jumper at the buzzer had Maccabi up 25-18 after 10 minutes. The Maccabi shooting continued in the second frame with DiBartolomeo and Wilbekin hitting from deep and Kam Taylor finished the 10-0 start to the quarter for a 35-18 lead. Thomas finally stopped the rut after nearly 5 minutes. That proved to be an initial momentum change as Zan Sisko hit a three-pointer in a 1-12 Bayern surge to pull within 38-32. Maccabi managed to go into the locker room ahead 40-32.
Bayern continued its tough defense early in the second half. Thomas scored inside and Nick Weiler-Babb twice hit from long range in a 2-16 run to move ahead 42-48. The flow of the game slowed as much of the scoring for both teams came from the foul line. Wilbekin and Nunnally both made a pair of free throws to get Maccabi within 50-52. Rubit answered with a personal 0-6 spurt and it was 54-58 after 30 minutes.
Bayern was not able to produce much offense in the fourth quarter with just 5 points in the first 4 minutes, but Maccabi failed to score at all and trailed 54-63. Wilbekin finally got the hosts on the board again with a three-pointer and Bayern coach Andrea Trinchieri immediately responded with a timeout. Wilbekin would not let his team lose with another three-pointer and then a three-point play to knot the game 65-65 with 3 minutes left. After Hunter missed free throws, Wilbekin kept going with a layup high off the glass for a Maccabi lead. Walden silenced the boisterous crowd with a big three-pointer to put Bayern back up 67-68. Wilbekin punched back with 2 free throws with 29 seconds remaining as Maccabi reclaimed the lead. Bayern missed two final attempts in the waning seconds as Maccabi sent its faithful home happy.
Scottie Wilbekin willed his team to victory as he tied his career-high of 28 points while also collecting 3 assists and 3 steals for an index rating of 32 - just one of his career-best. All told, he scored 13 points in the fourth quarter.
Finally another Maccabi win
Maccabi came into the game leading the all-time series with Bayern 5-3, but the Israeli powerhouse had lost the last three matchups. Maccabi’s last victory over Bayern had come on December 5, 2019.
Nice seeing you again
The game featured several players facing their former team. Maccabi’s Derrick Williams and Jalen Reynolds both played recently with Bayern - with Reynolds doing so last season. Bayern big man Othello Hunter spent the last two seasons in Maccabi and DeShaun Thomas played for Maccabi in 2017-18. And Maccabi's recent signing, center Mathias Lessort, who did not play, lined up for the German club in 2019-20.
Maccabi committed only 9 turnovers in the game and scored 22 points off turnovers to just 12 from Bayern.
Maccabi will stay at home for its next game when it hosts Crvena Zvezda mts Belgrade on Thursday, October 7. Bayern will play its EuroLeague home opener the same evening when it welcomes FC Barcelona to southern Germany.
Thursday, September 30, 2021