Maccabi FOX Tel Aviv's impressive victory over Fenerbahce Beko Istanbul on Wednesday was a statement win in a number of ways for the five-time former continental champion.
Maccabi knocked off Fenerbahce 67-55 to snap a three-game losing streak to the Turkish power and also capture its third straight triumph to improve to 3-2.
Maccabi head coach Ioannis Sfairopoulos was very pleased with his team's defensive performance, keeping a team with so many weapons like Fenerbahce to just 55 points. Along the way, Maccabi allowed just 6 points in the first quarter and only 21 in the first half. The 21 points in the first 20 minutes tied for Fenerbahce's second-worst first half in regular-season action in club history. As for its total at the end of the game, Fenerbahce has been held to fewer than 55 points just six times – and only once since the 2008-09 season.
Statement number one: Maccabi can D it up when it needs to.
Statement number two: Menorah Mivtachim Arena is Maccabi's home and visitors should know that getting a win there is not easy. Maccabi's three wins this season all came at home and no opponent has scored 70 points there yet. Crvena Zvezda mts Belgrade came closest with 69 in Round 3.
And the third statement is that Maccabi is starting to learn how to finish off games. The team lost by 6 points at Khimki Moscow Region and by just 1 point at Real Madrid in the first two weeks. Then came a 15-point blowout of Zvezda, a 13-point victory over Valencia Basket and Wednesday's 67-55 submission of Fenerbahce.
But those who only see the 12-point difference over Fenerbahce will not be fully aware of how strong Maccabi's performance was. First, the team built a 23-point lead early in the third quarter. Then it watched as a team of star veterans full of titles fought back like a wounded animal and slashed the gap to 5 points in the closing minutes.
But Maccabi did not break. It used the determination from its defense and picked up four crucial offensive rebounds on a single possession inside the final 2 minutes to defeat Fenerbahce's will and grab the win.
Not all victories are equal, and Maccabi's triumph over Fenerbahce was clearly a statement win – in many ways.