REPORT | 03/01/2019 | Edu Bueno | PHOTOGRAPHER: Ángel MartínezAyón (18 points, 9 rebounds and PIR of 31) and Rudy (13, 5 and 21), led Real Madrid in a match which was decided after the break.
- Matchday 16
It took some five minutes for the home side to get into the game. In that time, the visitors were aggressive and dominant, with the Caloiaro-Tyus duo too strong in the paint and drawing Real Madrid into fouls early on (two by Tavares). Far from throwing them off their game though, the Whites began to get into their stride with Ayón performing well (8 points and 5 rebounds in the first quarter), and Rudy and Randolph coming on. They improved their defensive attitude too, and turned the first period around with a 14-6 run, half from the American power forward (21-19, min. 10).
To and fro
The second quarter was evenly-matched from the start. Neither team could exert control over the game and the scoreboard switched sides time and again. Triples for Thompkins (3) and Ayón's rhythm close to the hoop helped the hosts to move into a slight advantage. However, Maccabi struck back through the inspired Roll, who enjoyed a spell of four triples without missing and 14 points, added to his superiority on the offensive rebound. It was 44 apiece at the break.
After the restart, Real Madrid began to edge in front with a fantastic seven-minute spell at the start of the third quarter, showing their best basketball at both ends. Llull was back to his old self, scoring (8 points) and assisting; Campazzo drove Wilbekin mad, joining the attack (7), while Tavares, before going off with four fouls on 27´, imposed himself on the Israeli front line. A Llull triple took his team to their largest advantage at 64-50 (min. 27). But Sfairopoulos' men didn't let them out of sight and with Tyus decisive, they held on, reducing the deficit to just four points heading into the final quarter (69-65, min. 31).
Madrid stay strong at the back
That was as much as the visitors could muster, though. Real Madrid allowed it to go no further, keeping their concentration and intensity, with Rudy leading the way. The power forward was superb, doing his bit all over the court. His efforts paved the way to another Whites' win. Deck and Ayón were behind him in offense to take it up a gear and overcome Maccabi, who didn't have the threat to trouble the madridista defense. Special praise is reserved for the Mexican ace, who hit a 31 PIR without ever making a fuss. The Whites kick off the new year with a strong 12-point victory (91-79, min. 40). In 72 hours' time, the derby with Estudiantes to round off the Christmas period.