"When you play well defensively, that helps your offensive rhythm. I think the balance between the two is key, and that's what we want to do all the time".
Maccabi Playtika Tel Aviv closed the double EuroLeague clash on Thursday with an excellent home win over TD Systems Baskonia Vitoria-Gasteiz, 91:82. Giannis Sfairopoulos's squad registered a balanced attacking game and a fine defensive effort improving their European record to 9:11. The Israeli champions came determined from the get-go, receiving points from all 12 players and excellent contribution from several players.
Yovel Zoosman finished the night with 11 points (3 threes), 3 assists, and a strong defensive showing. Othello Hunter added 14 points and 5 rebounds, Elijah Bryant 14 points, and 4 assists Angelo Caloiaro 12 points, 4 rebounds, and 2 steals. Now the Yellow & Blue await for next week's matchup as Real Madrid will come into Menora Mivtachim Arena to face Giannis Sfairopoulos's squad.
Maccabi opened with Scottie Wilbekin, Yovel Zoosman, Elijah Bryant, Dragan Bender, and Ante Zizic in the starting five. Luca Vildoza, Tadas Sedekerskis, Rokas Giedraitis, Achille Polonara, and Youssoupha Fall began for the basque side.
Fall dominated the paint in the first minutes of the contest, which gave the visitors a 6:0 start. Wilbekin facilitated the offense by dishing three assists to Zoosman (three pointer) and Zizic (back-to-back buckets inside), directing the host's offense, 7:11. Bryant hit consecutive mid-range floaters, and John DiBartolomeo knocked down a triple, closing a 12:2 run, 17:13.
Alec Peters and Vildoza drilled shots from behind the arc, DiBartolomeo responded on the other, and Angelo Caloiaro played effectively on both ends on the court, concluding the quarter tipping in an offensive board with 0.5 seconds, 26:21.
Zoran Dragic and Giedraitis converted from the free-throw line, but Othello Hunter's steal led to easy fastbreak points, and Chris Jones, with a mid-range jumper, kept Maccabi on top, 32:26.
Jones and Omri Casspi added points from the charity stroke as the Israeli forward dished a beautiful assist to Zizic, and Bender shot in a three-pointer, 43:34. Pierria Henry led the visitors to a quick 7:0 stretch cutting the Yellow & Blue edge down to 1, but Bryant and Caloiaro's bucket inside, determined the first half score, 47:43.
Wilbekin shot in his first shot of the night to open the second half, and Zoosman executed superbly, scoring five points and finding the driving Bender who slammed down an easy bucket, 56:50. Vildoza and Henry kept Baskonia in striking distance as Bender added his second triple, and Caloiaro scored his 10th point, beating the third-quarter buzzer, 68:60.
The final 10 minutes opened with Hunter's dunk fest as a pick and roll between Jones and center concluded with a one-handed alley-oop. Later Bryant found the American big man for another alley-oop finish scoring 6 straight points, 75:68.
On the other end, Peters and Guidraitis didn't let the game slip away, hitting shots from deep, cutting the advantage down 4. Wilbekin blasted a deep three, and Bryant sealed the deal with a swooping right-handed slam. Maccabi gains a vital home victory over Baskonia, 91:82.