Maccabi Tel Aviv made it three consecutive wins in the Top 16 of the EuroLeague, with a comfortable 94-85 victory over Fenerbache Ulker in Istanbul Thursday night.
The win keeps alive Maccabi’s European season, which seemed dead and buried just a month ago. After a poor start, which saw the Israeli champion slump to 1-4 record, a series of fine performances from David Blatt’s players has seen the Yellows climb right back into contention for a place in the next stage.
Thursday night’s game was a cagey affair; the raucous home fans did everything they could to intimidate the visitors. But Maccabi is used to such occasions and, after an even first quarter ended in a tie (22-22), the second quarter belonged to the Yellows. Points from Sylven Landesberg, Lior Eliyahu, Darko Planinic and David Logan gave Maccabi a nine-point gap before Ulker even managed to get on the scoreboard – and that was the margin at the end of the first half.
The remaining two quarters were also close-run affairs, but Maccabi – spurred on by fine performances from top scorer Ricly Hickman – was never seriously challenged. Croatian forward.
Next up for Maccabi is a tough home game against BC Khimki, which plays against Siena tomorrow night. Victory for Maccabi would lift it into the top half of the group – something that no one believed possible after losing four of its first five games in the Top 16. If Maccabi ends up going all the way to the Final Four, no one in yellow will remember this week’s embarrassing derby defeat at the hands of Hapoel Tel Aviv.