Injury-plagued Maccabi FOX Tel Aviv didn't have an easy mission when visiting Valencia Basket in Round 25. First, Maccabi needed to forget about the absences of six injured players. Second, it needed to figure out a much-improved opponent that had won six of its last nine games.
Even though Maccabi amassed an early 10-point lead, Valencia seemed to have taken full control when leading 48-35 after 23 minutes. Worse still for Maccabi, two of its leading scorers, Scottie Wilbekin and Tyler Dorsey, had just 8 points combined on 2-for-7 three-point shooting until then. The would not stay quiet, however.
Wilbekin woke up first, burying as many as 4 triples in just 5 minutes to bring his team within 61-58 at the end of the third quarter.
"I made one and I made two, and then coach started calling plays for me and they kept coming," he said after the game.
Dorsey followed by pouring in 14 points in the last quarter to complete the comeback at 61-63 and later to seal the outcome, 80-84, with 41 seconds to go. In between, the Wilbekin-Dorsey tag team had its key moment after Bojan Dubljevic hit a three-pointer that put Valencia in front, 77-75, with 2 minutes to go. First Wilbekin, then Dorsey, responded with back-to-back three-pointers. Maccabi stayed ahead thereafter.
All told, the duo scored 31 of Maccabi's 52 second-half points in less than 17 minutes, and every shot they made was necessary for the eventual 82-85 victory.
Losing coach Jaume Ponsarnau of Valencia pointed to Wilbekin and Dorsey as the riddle his defense could not solve. "We lost control of the game when we couldn't stop their perimeter players," he said.
Dorsey had a ready explanation for why he and Wilbekin were able to change the game and keep Maccabi well-positioned to fight for the top playoff spots.
"We know it's a game of runs, a lot of ups and downs, and we are going to fight," Dorsey said. "We have the fighting spirit no matter what."