If you looked at the stat sheet from Maccabi FOX Tel Aviv's 81-76 comeback victory over Buducnost VOLI Podgorica on Wednesday night without knowing anything else about the game, you would probably conclude that John DiBartolomeo did not make a particularly significant contribution to the victory.
The experienced guard and team captain played less than 6 minutes. He made 2 of 4 attempts from three-point range and delivered 1 assist, but he didn't even attempt a two-point shot, grabbed zero rebounds, made no steals or blocked shots, and his only other statistical note was 1 foul committed. Statistics, however, do not always tell the full story and in reality, DiBartolomeo played a major role in turning the momentum of the game firmly in Maccabi's direction.
After the home players shot 1 of 13 from long-range in the first half, they improved their three-point shooting after the break and started to turn the game around. The key moment came with three minutes remaining in the third quarter. With Buducnost up by 3, DiBartolomeo entered the game and delivered an assist for Kendrick Ray to strike a triple. A minute later, after a close-range score by Angelo Caloiaro, DiBartolomeo scored a three-pointer. Then, on the very next possession, he scored another. In the space of 90 seconds, a 3-point deficit had been turned into a 4-point lead, and Maccabi was on its way.
DiBartolomeo didn't do anything else, but he had already made his mark and visiting Coach Jasmin Repesa later ruefully noted: "We lost focus when DiBartolomeo entered the court, scoring easily. We know that he's a really great shooter and his three-pointers changed the game."
That decisive contribution goes to show that when coaches talk about basketball being a team game and all 12 men having a part to play, they really mean it. Sometimes, role players can be the biggest difference-makers – even if, like John DiBartolomeo on Wednesday night, they only play for 6 minutes and leave the stat sheet largely empty.