Maccabi FOX Tel Aviv recovered from a slow start to keep its playoffs dreams alive with a hard-earned 71-76 victory at Khimki Moscow Region.
The host was dominant early on and led by 14 in the first quarter, but Maccabi soon got to grips with the game and controlled the final three quarters. The Israeli side was powered by a double-double from Johnny O’Bryant, 16 points and 11 rebounds. Michael Roll top scored with 17 points on 5-of-7 three-point shooting, and Angelo Caloiaro combined 13 points with 9 rebounds. Jeremy Pargo added 12 points. Alexey Shved scored 17 points for Khimki but only made 5-of-20 field goal attempts. Jordan Mickey scored 14, and Malcolm Thomas paired 12 points with 8 rebounds. Maccabi is now 13-15, just one win short of the playoffs places with two games remaining.
Khimki made a fast start, racing to a 7-0 lead as Andrew Harrison made a three-pointer before Andrey Zubkov and Thomas scored inside. Shved knocked down a pair of triples for a 19-5 lead, before deep strikes from Roll and Jake Cohen reduced the gap to single digits as Maccabi finally started firing. Sergey Monia’s three-pointer made it 24-15 after ten minutes, but Roll netted another pair of triples and John DiBartolomeo and O’Bryant also struck from deep for 28-27. Baskets were traded evenly before O’Bryant scored twice to tie the game at 35-35. Caloiaro’s three-point play gave Maccabi its first lead, and it was 39-40 at the break. Roll scored from downtown again early in the third quarter and two baskets from O’Bryant kept Maccabi ahead. Three-pointers from Pargo and O’Bryant extended the lead as Khimki went nearly five minutes without a field goal before a deep strike from Shved, and it was 55-59 at the end of the third. Shved’s three-point play and Monia’s corner triple tied it up early in the fourth, but Roll and O’Bryant netted again for a 61-67 lead. Mickey made it a one-possession game, 69-71, inside the final 3 minutes, but Scottie Wilbekin and Pargo gave the visitors breathing room. Khimki missed a couple of long-range efforts, and that was enough for Maccabi to hold on.
Rebounding record for Maccabi
A major reason for Maccabi’s dominance in the final three quarters was its thunderous control of the boards. Maccabi ended up with 54 rebounds – 15 offensive and 39 defensive – to set a new club record and the competition’s second-highest in a non-overtime game this century. Only Olympiacos, with 55 boards in a playoffs win against Montepaschi Siena in 2011, was higher.
A different way to win
Maccabi’s leading scorers for the season, Scottie Wilbekin and Tarik Black, both suffered tough nights with neither scoring a single field goal in the first 38 minutes. Wilbekin ended up with 6 points (1 two-pointer and 4 free throws) and Black had just 1 free throw. But that was compensated by Michael Roll and Angelo Caloiaro both nearly doubling their average points tallies.
Free throw improvement boosts Maccabi
The visitors came into the game as the worst free throw shooting team in the league, making just 69.4% of its foul shots. But that stat was turned around on this occasion, with the Israeli side making 15-of-17 free throws (88.2%). And in a close game, that big improvement made a major difference.
Ton up for Monia
Veteran Khimki big man Sergey Monia reached the milestone of 1,000 points in the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague with a three-pointer from the corner early in the fourth quarter. The 35 year-old has made 198 appearances in the competition for three Moscow clubs – CSKA, Dynamo and Khimki – over the course of nine seasons.
Both teams will play their final home games of the regular season in Round 29: Maccabi will welcome Herbalife Gran Canaria next Thursday, while Khimki hosts CSKA in the Moscow derby on Friday evening.