Should Maccabi Tel Aviv return to the Euroleague playoffs at the end of the regular season, it may very well look back at Thursday’s 90-88 win over Brose Bamberg as one of the games that led to a top-eight finish.
Maccabi came back from eight points down with five minutes to play to claim a crucial victory over the Germans at Yad Eliyahu Arena, improving to a 9-8 record to remain in the playoff spots.
Tel Aviv withstood a second- half barrage by former player Ricky Hickman, with John DiBartolomeo coming off the bench to score 14 points in a row before Pierre Jackson took charge and led Maccabi to the triumph.
Michael Roll kept the yellow-and- blue in the game for long stretches, ending the night with 23 points. DiBartolomeo was one of five other Maccabi players in double figures, finishing with 14 points. Jackson scored 11, with eight of them coming in the final 3:18 minutes.
Hickman netted 23 points for Bamberg, which fell to 6-11 with its fifth straight defeat.
Two three-pointers to end the first period gave Bamberg a five-point advantage (25-20) after 10 minutes and another triple by Lucca Staiger to begin the second quarter opened a record eight-point gap.
A Jonah Bolden three at the other end settled Maccabi nerves and a Jackson basket with just under 2:30 minutes to play in the half capped an 8-0 run that gave the hosts their first lead of the frame (39-37).
The Germans netted the final four points of the half to take a two-point edge (41-39) into the break, but Maccabi could consider itself fortunate, with Bamberg’s two top scorers, Dorell Wright and Ricky Hickman combining for just five points on 1-of-14 from the field.
Maccabi scored the first seven points of the second half (46-41), but Jackson picked up two fouls in one play, taking him to four for the game less than three minutes into the third quarter.
Tel Aviv was always going to struggle without arguably its most important player, and five straight points by Hickman followed by a Nikos Zisis three completed an 11-0 surge that gave the visitors a 52-46 lead.
With Jackson being relegated to the bench and Maccabi already having to manage without the injured Norris Cole and a limited Deshaun Thomas, the yellow-and-blue needed someone to step up.
The reliable Roll took his tally to 18 points to tie the score (55- 55) before DiBartolomeo provided a much-needed spark from the bench.
After struggling in his first Euroleague season so far – averaging 2.4 points per game and scoring no more than eight points in any game – DiBartolomeo netted 10 points in the final 2:11 minutes of the third quarter and Maccabi led by five points before Bamberg scored the final four points of the period to make it a one-point game (65-64) entering the closing frame.
DiBartolomeo built on the momentum and scored Tel Aviv’s first four points of the fourth period, but had no answer for Hickman at the other end.
Hickman came into the fourth quarter with 10 points, but took less than two minutes to score another 11, including three triples in a row to put Bamberg in the driving seat (75-69).
The visitors took their lead to eight points (84-76), but five points by Roll brought Maccabi back in touch before Jackson took over to secure a significant win.