— by Amir Shoam
After two disappointing losses, Maccabi Tel Aviv beat Fenerbahce-Ulker Istanbul 91-73 yesterday in the basketball Euroleague second group stage. Maccabi could not flee during the first half, which ended in 36-36. During the third quarter Maccabi seemed to run away, but the Turks managed to cut the difference back to 53-48 by its end. However, in the first three minutes of the fourth quarter Maccabi went up to 66-54, and Fenerbahce could not get back from that.
More after the jump.
Maccabi enjoyed a great day of its two best scorers this season: center Shawn James scored 9/10 two-point throws and 4/4 free throws, and also contributed five rebounds and an assist in his 30 minutes on the field. Guard Ricky Hickman scored 6/8 two-pointers, 9/9 free throws and 1/3 three-pointers, and added five assists and five rebounds in 29 minutes. However, Israeli guard Moran Roth was selected game MVP for his six assists and eight points, including 2/2 three-pointers, in 16 minutes.
As remembered, Maccabi finished the first group stage in the first place out of six with an 8-2 win-lose record. As a result, it was placed as one of the two group winners out of eight teams in the new group. In the first game of the stage Maccabi lost to Siena, which finished third in Maccabi’s group in the first stage but has greatly improved during the season — 69-79. Last week Maccabi lost 70-71 to Caja Laboral. The teams that finish in the first four places of this group will advance to the quarter-final series stage.
“Fener has a lot of useful players, but we played better as a team”, said head coach David Blatt. “I’m still hurting last week, because we could win an even better team, but at least we’re back in business. It wasn’t as easy as the score suggests, but the last quarter was something special. We defended pretty well as always, but we needed another scorer except for Ricky and Shawn and I’m happy that Moran had a great game”.