Maccabi Tel Aviv began the game with a 7-0 run blasting past Barcelona and looking like they were firing on all cylinders. However, visiting coach Georgios Bartzokas calmed his troops down and began running down the shot clock on every possession with the help of ex-Maccabi guard Tyrese Rice. The former Maccabi star scored 6 points in the quarter as the visitors finished the quarter with a 20-18 lead.
Barcelona pulled ahead 40-34 by the end of the half thanks to a 13-0 run in the second quarter. Maccabi had taken an earlier 31-25 lead but the Barca run forced coach Rami Hadar to take a pair of timeouts to try and stem the tide. With terrific team work, the Spaniards were able to move ahead by six points after 20 minutes thanks to Joey Dorsey’s 7 boards, five coming on the offensive side along with 9 points. Andrew Goudelock ended the half with 9 points while Maccabi centers Colton Iverson and Maik Zirbes combined for 13 points.
The visitors extended their lead to 58-47 after 30 minutes of play as Rice bumped his game total to 18 points while a team defense of ten steals helped Barcelona dominate almost all aspects of the game. The final quarter saw Rice and friends take a 20 point lead 69-49 with six minutes to play, but Maccabi stormed back thanks to Devin Smith (18pts) and Goudelock (19pts). However, with the deficit standing at just 6 points with 32 seconds left in the game, Smith missed a crucial 3-pointer sealing the Yellow & Blue’s fate.
1) If Maccabi was going to beat Barcelona, this was their chance. The Spaniards came to Tel Aviv with a slew of injuries and seemed ready for the taking, expect they weren’t. Tyrese Rice, the former Maccabi star showed exactly why he won a pair of European Championship MVP schooling the Yellow & Blue, scoring at will while managing a magnificent game plan. The other problem was that Maccabi looked like they were playing in quicksand. No energy, no intensity and no desperation. I’ll throw them a bone that they were beat up and tired after having to play their fourth game in a week, but something just didn’t click all night long. This coming Monday night they head to Ashdod and they should be well rested.
2) Two jarring statistics were the amount of steals and offensive rebounds Barcelona was able to pick up. Having the ball stolen 12 times usually leads to some fast break point, plus 11 offensive rebounds, 7 coming from big man Joey Dorsey allowed Barca to capitalize on many second chance points. Both these stats mean a) Maccabi’s ball handling was sloppy and b) There was a lack of a fighting spirit to rip down rebounds on the defensive boards .
3) The Israeli production, yes that again. 38 minutes and 6 points, what a shocking difference than what we saw just a few days earlier against Hapoel Tel Aviv when Guy Pnini scored 21 and Gal Mekel dropped 11. Against Barcelona they went a combined 0/1 from the field and 0/2 from the charity stripe. Not good enough yet again.
Colton Iverson is now firmly planted as the starting center for Maccabi with over 25 minutes of play and Maik Zirbes has been relegated to the bench playing only 11:47 and not stepping foot onto the parquet in the final frame. Joe Alexander barely registers a breath of air even during an Israeli game so of course he again didn’t see a second against Barcelona as coach Rami Hadar opted for small ball during the 4 minutes or so of play with neither Iverson or Zirbes on the floor. Hadar had 15 fouls to use on Dorsey and co. and only used 5 of them. Maccabi should have been much more physical down low than what they showed against Barcelona.
They said it
Rami Hadar: “We had a lot of turnovers. I think at the end of the day, we went through 10 very emotional days and we were soft. We were missing something. Even our level of basketball wasn’t good; we were lacking energy. Barcelona was better and deservedly won. Our offensive game did not flow and the result is clear… we tried at time to cut off Rice and sometimes we were successful. When we were unsuccessful, he put Barcelona ahead and that’s what went wrong for us. He was able to touch the ball too many times; he’s an excellent player who knows how to run his team. We managed to make him work harder, but in the second quarter he scored a chain of baskets. ”
Sonny Weems: ”We came out flat today. We have to bring the energy we had at the end for the whole game. They controlled the tempo, offensive boards. But it’s a long season, still a long way to go.”