Unicaja Malaga secured a place in the Top 16 and returned to winning form at home in the Euroleague on Thursday night as they took out Maccabi Tel Aviv in an unrelenting 82-68 showdown.
Those hoping for a hungry Maccabi side to come in guns blazing, seeking revenge for the massacre in Tel Aviv at the beginning of the season would be disappointed. The visitors did rally some in the third and fourth quarters but just couldn’t get enough shots to drop to really pressure the home side.
Joan Plaza, the Malaga coach stressed throughout the third and fourth quarters about not easing up and it seemed to work as Malaga kept up the offensive pressure while the rousing words of the coach gave the defence much needed kick in the moments when it lapsed.
Will Thomas led scoring for the Andalusia based side with 20 points, many of which came in the final quarter where he put the exclamation point on the scoreline and squashed Maccabi’s hopes of a comeback.
Mindaugas Kuzminskas and Nemanja Nedovic also contributed well with 14 and 11 points apiece. Kuzminskas shooting 54 percent on 11 two point attempts as well making two steals and Nedovic scoring two of his three long range attempts.
Maccabi are now in the red zone with three games left to win to secure a spot in the Top 16. Zan Tabak the recently appointed replacement coach still has hope of figuring it out for the Tel Aviv side as they showed flashes of a good team in this game but just need to do so more consistently.
Malaga meanwhile can use the remaining weeks to figure out the kinks in their game and maybe try to recoup some losses in the ACB where they have a 3-4 record.