Turkish Airlines EuroLeague MVP of January: Alex Tyus, Maccabi FOX Tel Aviv

For Maccabi FOX Tel Aviv to rise from 14th place to a share of the final playoff spot during the first month of 2019 required a great collective effort. The Maccabi player who was most consistent and remarkably efficient throughout the month, center AlexTyus, is Euroleague Basketball’s choice as the MVP for January. Tyus is the last link on Maccabi’s roster to the 2014 Turkish Airlines EuroLeague title team, and his desire to return to those glory days was evident throughout the team’s January surge. Tyus was so focused that he made 26 of his 31 total two-point shot attempts for a remarkable field-goal accuracy rate of 83.9% in January. At the other end of the court, he was also aggressive enough to block 4 shots in a victory against CSKA Moscow that Maccabi fans may one day look back upon as a late-decade turning point for their team. Despite three of his teammates playing more minutes in January, Tyus led Maccabi in points (56), two-point shots made (26), blocks (7) and performance index rating (73) for the month. He was the only Maccabi player with a double-digit PIR in all five games, too. His display was a welcome blast from the past for Maccabi fans, who surely hope that what they saw from Tyus and his teammates in January is a sign for the future, too.

The MVP of the Month honor is now in its 15th season. Although statistics and performance index ratings are taken into consideration for the award, they alone do not determine who is honored. The winner is named by Euroleague Basketball based on his and his team’s performance. The award for January covered the five regular season games that all teams played between January 3 and January 25.

Maccabi was tied on the road at halftime with Real Madrid to open January but fell to a 91-79 defeat despite 17 points and 8 rebounds from Tyus and dropped to 14th place in the standings. The double-round week that followed began with an 81-76 home win against Buducnost VOLI Podgorica that righted Maccabi’s ship as Tyus shot perfectly for 8 points. Less than 48 hours later and almost 4,000 kilometers away, Maccabi beat CSKA in Moscow for the first time since 2004 by a score of 76-93, the worst home loss for the hosts in more than six years. Tyus had 12 points and team highs of 6 rebounds and 4 blocks. His 6 two-pointers made helped Maccabi break its club record with 35. The next week, Tyus was a perfect 5 for 5 on two-pointers to score 11 points in 16 minutes of a 99-83 home win over FC Barcelona Lassa. And to close January, he shot a perfect 4 of 4 with 4 rebounds and 2 blocks in 14 minutes of an 85-74 win over Panathinaikos OPAP Athens. Just 21 days after having lost to Real Madrid and fallen to 5-11 record, Maccabi ended January at 9-11, sharing in a three-way tie for the eighth and final playoff spot.

When all was said and done, his shooting efficiency was such that Tyus did not miss any field goal attempts in three of his team’s four January wins. Maccabi’s defense gave up just 77.5 points on average in those victories, thanks in part to the quickness and shot-blocking of Tyus. Indeed, by month’s end, Tyus had used his 7 blocks to jump two places and rank third all-time in the EuroLeague with 198 career rejections. It all added up to a renaissance month for Maccabi, whose fans will recall that Tyus was the MVP for April back in 2014, during the team’s last, magical championship run. Whatever the future may hold this season, they will be more than happy to thank Tyus again when he receives the January MVP award at an upcoming home game.

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