Maccabi Tel Aviv defeated UNICS Kazan in Tel Aviv 60-52 in a poorly played game by both teams. Andrew Goudelock may have led the Yellow & Blue with 17 points but shooting percentages by both sides were atrocious at best.
Devin Smith got the hosts out the gate well dropping all 9 of his points in the first half while playing 14+ minutes as Yogev Ohayon with 7 points paced Maccabi to an anemic 33-24(!) lead after 20 minutes of action. On the defensive end, Russian sharp shooter Keith Langford was kept at bay with only 3 points in 17 minutes.
The second half was almost a carbon copy of the first as Goudelock came alive to provide the Maccabi offense with 13 second half points as the Yellow & Blue were able to escape with an ugly 8 point win over Kazan.
1) A win is a win; but boy was this one to forget and fast. Shooting by both sides was horrific. Maccabi went 18/44 good for 41% from 2, while Kazan shot 14/45 for 31% from the same distance. From beyond the arc, the hosts went 4/14 and the visitors 5/24 for a pitiful 21% from 3. YIKES! It was hard to watch at times and I’m sure even more frustrating to play, but this is what it is with two of the bottom teams in the league. Add in the fact that both teams played just two days ago and that’s what you get, a poor game as well, but a win is a win and Maccabi will take a win anyway they can get one.
2) Other stats; that stood out were Maccabi turnovers after 20 minutes stood at only 3(!), and although they ended the game with 14, to have only 3 in the first half is in itself amazing considering how many balls they have lost all year. 6 assists all game were dished out by Kazan, which is another crazy number, showing that the Yellow & Blue defense could shut down the Russian’s offense. DJ Seely, Guy Pnini and Sylven Landesberg played a combined total of 13 minutes and scored 0 points, 0 rebounds and 0 assists which is not good for their standing in Europe while and lastly Keith Langford was totally neutralized by Sonny Weems as the veteran marksman went 4/21 from the field and only 3/6 from the line. Not a good night by the former Maccabi player.
3) What to do with Sonny Weems? That’s the million dollar question literally and figuratively. In 26+ minutes the Maccabi forward produced a mere 3 points only shooting 6 times at the basket all night long. He did pull down 6 boards but 4 out pf the teams 14 turnovers isn’t good. There has been talk that he may be cut and that his agent who is in Israel is looking for his next destination, but I want to point out one thing that Andrew Goudelock said following the game, that Sonny was the one who played lockdown defense and shutdown Langford. The former Lakers guard singled Weems out positively and that was good to hear. Can the European season still be salvaged? Time will tell, but the road is a long one, however, there still are games to go.
I asked Head Coach Ainars Bagatskis about trying to take this win and get onto some kind of positive streak as they head out to Bamberg next week. The coach was noncommittal and wouldn’t make any promises but he was proud of the way his team got together and found a way to win as a team. “This game made us stronger as a team. This was a team win. We have to view the situation and win the game if we stay like a team and work like a team. There’s supposed to be a balance between offense and defense, no stupid turnovers and no dumb shots. That’s enough for a successful game”, said the Latvian. I couldn’t agree more. Even though this was not one the nicest wins in franchise history it certainly was an important one and hopefully a building block for more to come. But the only way they will be successful as the coach noted is if the team takes care of the ball and uses it intelligently with no turnovers or poor shot selection. Maccabi must play like a team and commit to play defense selflessly, that’s going to be the key to the rest of the campaign.”
They Said It:
Devin Smith, Maccabi FOX Tel Aviv
“The game was a grind. Our second EuroLeague game this week. We defended well, rebounded and stayed committed to our game plan. We set the tone. Energy wise, effort wise, everybody came out aggressive. I just told everybody this should be our focus. Playing defense and finishing our possessions whether we score or not. If we limit them and stop them from scoring, we can win the game.”
Andrew Goudelock, Maccabi FOX Tel Aviv
“It was an ugly game for us, offensively. But defensively we played great. Sonny (Weems) plays really well on Langford, Colton, it was a real team effort and we found a way. We got to start somewhere. We just needed it more for our confidence, mentally. It’s hard when you come to a game and you can almost feel the energy when the other team comes back and we lose a game so it feels good to finally finish one.”