Roca Team have won the first of two away games at Maccabi in the EuroLeague play-offs and now need one more win to qualify for the Final Four for the first time in club history. The team recorded a resounding victory (78-83) at the Menorah Mivtachim Arena in Tel Aviv in front of 11,192 spectators. On Thursday, both teams will meet again in this sports hall and possibly there will be a fifth game in Fontvieille to determine the winner of this play-off match.
The atmosphere was almost suffocating before the start of the match. Six-time European champion Maccabi thought they could celebrate the 75th anniversary of the State of Israel with a nice victory, but Roca Team were not intimidated by these circumstances. Manager Sasa Obradovic’s side opened the scoring with a three-pointer from John Brown and were never behind in the game. In fact, the passion of the Maccabi crowd was quickly extinguished by the good play of the Monegasques, with Mike James in particular distinguishing himself. He accounted for 18 points in the first half. After five minutes, Monaco led 17-8, but in the end the first quarter was decided 22-16. Maccabi then started the second quarter strongly and within two and a half minutes the score was tied (24-24). Monaco quickly recovered, walking away thanks to James and led 41-32 at halftime. Roca team probably dealt the home team a psychological blow at this stage.
After the break, Monaco maintained the lead, sometimes of three points and sometimes of nine points. The duel rocked up and down. Maccabi was probably counting on winning the match in the closing stages. But Monaco held on in the decisive moments and also took advantage of most of the penalty kicks. Diallo (with 7 out of 8) and Loyd (with the last two throws) kept Roca Team on course for victory, which certainly tastes sweet.
It is above all a heroic victory after the false start a week ago and knowing that Maccabi has the best home score of any team in the EuroLeague this season.
FILE PHOTO: Monaco’s John Brown