Maccabi gets historical win in Barcelona
In a battle between classic powerhouses that went to the final shot, Maccabi Playtika Tel Aviv registered its first win at Palau Blagrana in more than 15 years by topping host FC Barcelona 67-68 on Friday. Othello Hunter stole the show with the go-ahead alley-oop slam with 13.2 seconds remaining. Maccabi improved to 6-9 in the standings while Barcelona dropped to 11-4 and is now in second place. Dragan Bender led the winners with 15 points. Tyler Dorsey added 14 while Elijah Bryant and Hunter each had 10 for Maccabi. Cory Higgins led Barcelona with 16 points, but missed the game's final shot seconds before the buzzer. Kyle Kuric and Nikola Mirotic each added 12 while Nick Calathes had 11 for the hosts, who were without center Brandon Davies due to a last-minute injury. Mirotic added 10 rebounds for a double-double.
Mirotic got Barcelona going with a fallaway jumper and Calathes added a driving layup for a 4-1 lead. Bryant and Hunter each scored under the rim to put Maccabi ahead, 4-5. Bender followed a power layup with a jumper but Mirotic and Calathes kept the hosts within 8-9. Bender hit a running hook and Hunter added an alley-oop slam but Higgins brought Barcelona within 12-13. Omri Casspi scored down low and Ante Zizic added a jump hook that restored a 12-17 Maccabi lead after 10 minutes. Rolands Smits hit a close shot early in the second quarter and Kuric sank a triple that tied it at 17-17. Dorsey struck from downtown and Bender scored off an inbound pass but Kuric answered for a 22-22 tie. Bender kept pacing Maccabi, getting help from Bryant and Scottie Wilbekin to make the guests regain a 25-30 margin. Mirotic had 6 points in a 7-0 run that put Barcelona in charge, 32-30, at halftime. Smits, Wilbekin and Higgins each buried a three-pointer immediately after the break. Angelo Caloiaro scored twice down low in a 0-6 run that Bender capped with an alley-oop basket for a 38-39 Maccabi lead. Mirotic and Higgins fueled an 8-1 run highlighted by Calathes's one-handed runner, restoring a 46-42 Barcelona edge. Artem Pustovyi took over with an alley-oop and Higgins added a layup but Bryant and Dorsey made Maccabi regain a 52-53 lead. Alex Abrines put the hosts back ahead, 54-53, after 30 minutes. Dorsey bettered Higgins's driving layup with a three-point play early in the fourth quarter. Pustovyi and Hunter traded dunks, then Chris Jones floated one in for a 59-60 Maccabi lead with under 7 minutes left. Bryant found space for an uncontested layup but Calathes and Kuric each nailed a triple to provide another lead change, 65-63. Calathes downed a floater to cap an 8-0 run but Dorsey and Wilbekin gave Maccabi hope, 67-66, with 1:28 to go. Wilbekin found Hunter for a huge alley-oop slam, giving the guests a 67-68 lead with 13.2 seconds remaining. Higgins missed from beyond the arc in Barcelona's final possession.
Hunter not only provided one of Maccabi's highlights this season with the game-winning alley-oop dunk and the key defensive stop, but did a little bit of everything to make sure his team won the game. He finished with 10 points, 5 rebounds, an assist, a steal and 3 blocks.
Barcelona led 67-63 with over 3 minutes left but Maccabi helds its opponent scoreless in crunch time. Meanwhile, Dorsey split free throws, Wilbekin buried a couple of attempts and Hunter detonated the alley-oop dunk to put Maccabi ahead, 67-68. Barcelona had a final chance to win the game but Hunter got the key defensive stop, taking Higgins one-on-one and making him take a tough shot which didn't go in.
Maccabi pulled down 14 offensive rebounds and held Barcelona to just 10. It also had 19 assists, 8 more than the hosts. Maccabi had 6 blocks and Barca only one. Those small details were decisive in a game that went down to the wire.
Did you know?
Maccabi grabbed its first win at Palau Blaugrana in more than 15 years. Maccabi's last road win against Barcelona came on December 15, 2005, 78-88, behind 24 points from Tal Burstein. Barcelona had won its previous 10 home games against the Israeli powerhouse. After this, their 44th showdown, Barcelona now has a 27-17 winning record in their all-time series.
Both teams return to EuroLeague action early next week in Round 16. Barcelona visits Anadolu Efes Istanbul, featuring former players Tibor Pleiss, Adrien Moerman and Chris Singleton, on Tuesday, December 22. Later that day, Maccabi hosts Panathinaikos OPAP Athens.
Friday, December 18, 2020