Credit: Imago Images – Scanpix
Credit Imago Images – Scanpix

That was an unusual team huddle at the end of the Maccabi Playtika Tel Aviv warmup two minutes before the start of the third quarter.

Player of the Game
Konstantinos  Mitoglou
EFF
20
Konstantinos Mitoglou
Points 16
Accuracy 6-9
Rebounds 6
Assists 1

Scottie Wilbekin gathered all Maccabi players on the free-throw line of Mediolanum Forum and made a speech.

The picture of the first half was speechless, though. Maccabi had to react because they were behind AX Armani Exchange 30-52. The yellows lacked defensive chemistry, effort, and luck making open shots to stay in the game.

Wilbekin, who dropped 28 points two weeks ago in a season opener against Bayern Munich, went only for two first-half points in Milan, with 0 of 4 from the field. But he decided to verbally step up to stop the collapse of the Maccabi game.

"Yes, yes," coach Ioannis Sfairopoulos admitted the importance of Wilbekin's move before the second half. "Look, we have players with personality and players that can step up. It's a matter of time. We'll find our game rhythm and play much better. But this leadership will guide us to the right way."

Maccabi won the third quarter 19-11 and reduced the deficit to a single digit 70-79 at the end of the fourth quarter. However, Milan saved the lead 83-72 and stayed undefeated in the EuroLeague.

Coach Ioannis Sfairopoulos asked for patience since COVID-19 blew up the Maccabi preseason, leaving them with only seven full-team practices before Milan's game. So he takes every small victory on their long journey to a decent EuroLeague shape.

"In the first half, we played very badly on both ends of the floor. We didn't execute on offense. We missed some open shots, but in general, we had moments that offensively we were not good," coach Sfairopoulos explained in the press conference. "Defensively, we saw easy baskets. They scored 52 points on almost 67% shooting from two at the first half, and it was very hard to stay in the game."

"In the half time, we discussed that we need to fight better and harder. And this is what happened. It's important we reacted in the middle of the game. Because it's not easy when you collapse like that in the first half, which was a complete disaster. We played a much better second half. That was positive for the same game but also positive for the continuation. We need to continue as we finished the game."

Maccabi will travel to Villeurbanne, where they will face the surprising ASVEL team, which remained undefeated after beating the EuroLeague champions Anadolu Efes Istanbul 75-73.

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Milano Armani Exchange
Tel Avivo Maccabi
47%
28/59
Field goals
45%
27/60
35
Rebounds
29
19
Assists
20
3
Steals
5
98
Efficiency
68
37%
11/30
3-pointers
32%
8/25

Best players

Devon  Hall
17 PTS
5/12 FG
4/5 FT
Derrick  Williams
19 PTS
7/10 FG
1/1 FT
Konstantinos  Mitoglou
6 REB
4 DREB
2 OREB
James  Nunnally
7 REB
7 DREB
0 OREB
Sergio  Rodriguez
6 As
1 TO
19 MIN
James  Nunnally
5 As
3 TO
34 MIN
Konstantinos  Mitoglou
20 EFF
67% 2P%
67% 3P%
James  Nunnally
20 EFF
80% 2P%
17% 3P%