Maccabi Tel Aviv fell to Zalgiris 99-84 on Gameday 21 of the Euroleague. The loss sets the Yellow & Blue’s record back to 11-10 and sit in 8th place. The Kaunas, Lithuania side controlled the game almost wire to wire as Kevin Pangos starred for Sarunas Jasikevicius as the Canadian born guard scored 16 points and dished out 11 assists while Paulius Jankunas dropped 17 points. Michael Roll led Maccabi with 17 points as Jonah Bolden scored 12 points, pulled down 9 rebounds and added 5 assists in a losing effort.
1) 3-pointers were the name of the game in this matchup as Zalgiris went deep early and often shooting 14/23 from long distance good for 61%(!) while went an abysmal 5/20 going 0/8 before hitting their first trey. Where was the defense? Maccabi was late than ever getting out on the shooters allowing Pangos, Arturas Milaknis and Vasilije Micic to each score 3 a piece from deep. Add to that the 29 assists that the host’s dished out as the Yellow & Blue were a step short getting to the shooter time and time again. This isn’t a new problem and has been coming up over and over again all season long. Coach Neven Spahija’s got to find a way to get his team to be a step ahead and make sure one of his players is on the opposing shooter at all times. Where is the defense. It’s enough of the freebies.
2) Maccabi came out like a house on fire in the third quarter and cut the Zalgiris halftime lead of 53-46 to 55-54 with 7:42 left in the frame. Jonah Bolden and Pierre Jackson drained back to back 3-pointers and it looked like the Yellow & Blue would take the lead on the next possession and say goodbye to the host’s. However, that was wishful thinking. Art Parakhouski stole the ball from Pangos and Jackson looked for the big bucket. But instead of going up by 1 or 2 the guard was called for an offensive foul. Saras made wholesale substitutions bringing in Antanas Kavaliauskus and Micic for Axel Toupane and Brandon Davies, Edgaras Ulanovas hit a 3, Jackson was subbed out, Pangos hit a 3 and that was all she wrote.
3) Spahija again went with a shorter rotation and only played 9 players as Yovel Zoosman, Itay Segev and Jake Cohen were left on the bench. After Cohen’s spectacular game against Haifa earlier in the week, would it not have been worth giving him a shot at some point against Zalgiris? When the host’s were running out to a double digit lead in the 3rd quarter, wouldn’t it have been prudent to take a timeout before the Lithuanian’s were up 74-60 and cool off the run rather than just bringing in Alex Tyus and Deshaun Thomas for Parakhouski and Michael Roll hoping to stop the bleeding?
I had the chance to interview Kevin PangosThe before the game and I have to say that it was a huge honor on a number of levels. The Gonzaga grad is having a breakout season for Zalgiris and is showing why he is one of the top guards in Europe while also leading his team to yet another win. He’s lucky to have not one, but two mentors in Saras and Beno Udrih who will be able to guide him and help him improve his game while taking him to the next level. Now that’s pretty cool. Pangos spoke about what it’s like to have a 2x NBA Champion in the same locker room, “He’s been great to learn from just to pick up little things that I haven’t learned growing up. So I’m trying to ask him as many questions as I can and watch and learn whenever possible.” That gets a huge like from the Sports Rabbi!