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Another defensive gem led Olimpia to a great 87-68 triumph over Maccabi


Thanks to another defensive gem, Olimpia defeated Maccabi Tel Aviv 87-68 and got the seventh win in the last eight EuroLeague games, improving its record to 16-8, good for the second place overall. Olimpia led from wire-to-wire, holding Maccabi to 27 points in the first half, forcing 12 misses out of 13 three-point attempts. Olimpia had also a great executing night, going 24-for-32 from two. Gradually, the team found its three-point shot, finishing with 10-for-24. Maccabi attempted a rally in the third quarter when reduced the margin to six. After Coach Ettore Messina time-out, Olimpia came out on fire. Gigi Datome made a three, Kevin Punter made a three, Datome capped a 9-0 run that expanded the lead to 15 points. Basically, the outcome was never in doubt after that. “I congratulated my players, we were fatigued and a little short in the rotation among the bigs, but our defense was tremendous for the entire game,” Messina said.

With Jeff Brooks still out and Zach LeDay being the latest addition to the injured list, Datome started at the 4-spot, Olimpia stayed small for the length of the game, using Vlado Micov as a big and in the end even Shavon Shields (who had 11 points and nine rebounds). But Olimpia never struggled under the boards. Datome had seven rebounds, himself. Punter and Micov combined for 7-for-7 from two, Kyle Hines went 6-for-8, Shields 4-for-5. “We shared the ball, it was a clever game, when the percentages didn’t support us, our defense kept us ahead,” Messina pointed out.

Olimpia held Maccabi to 68 points, Scottie Wilbekin, the sixth-best scorer in the EuroLeague, was scoreless for the night. “A big key was Malcolm Delaney – Messina said – the knee’s been bothering him for a long time, especially when he wants to attack off the dribble, less on his lateral movement. He’s putting a lot of pressure on the ball, and he has done it since the very first possession. The team followed him. Then I know that you don’t keep Wilbekin scoreless, it was a bad night for him, he had some problems, but we did a great job.”

Sergio Rodriguez capped a historic night, he is the 8th player ever to score at least 3.000 points for his career, with a nine-assist fantastic outing. “That meant I’ve been playing for a long time, but I feel like this is my first game,” he said at the end. Rodriguez had 10 points himself. “Vlado Micov gave us some good minutes, since he was just returning from an injury, Kaleb Tarczewski was a presence in the middle at both ends of the floor, Michael Roll was ready. They are great professionals,” Messina closed.