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“Got to be better” – Maccabi falls 87-66 to Real Madrid

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Maccabi Tel Aviv fell to Real Madrid at Yad Eliyahu 87-66 in a game that was never even that close after the visitor’s broke open the game in the second quarter. The loss drops Maccabi to a 1-5 record. After a close first frame in which the Yellow & Blue were down 18-15, the host’s closed the score to 20-19 in favor of Madrid with 7:58 remaining in the half. However, Real went on a 21-4 run to close out the half and were ahead 41-23 after twenty minutes and for all intents and purposes it was Game. Set. Match.

Johnny O’Bryant scored 17 points and added 7 boards while Ramon Sessions made his Maccabi debut and dropped 11 points in 23+ minutes. Sergio Llull scored 17 points, Jaycee Carroll scored 16 points while Gustavo Ayon dropped 12 points and grabbed 12 rebounds in the win.

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3-Pointers
One of the great things about Euroleague games is that the press is allowed to go into the locker room following the contest, win or lose. Obviously when the team wins the room is a hoot and fun place to be and when they lose, well, not so much. That was the case this evening as credit to Maccabi all the players were at their stalls in their room available to the media, no one was hiding out and shying away from the defeat. However, you can see the disappointment and reactions. I spoke to DeAndre Kane for 30-seconds and the interview went as follows:

“We got to be better. Simple.”

Can you put a finger on the issue?
“No, we just got to be better.”

There’s plenty of games left in the season his can you get out of the hole?
“Got to be better.”

It’s clear that Kane has one thing on his mind which is to get better and better they’ll have to get in order to compete against teams like Real Madrid and to win games. But they’ve better get better fast as the certainly are many games left, but the season may be slowly slipping away.

2) With 7:58 left in the second quarter and the score lose, 20-19 in favor of Real, the visitor’s went on a 21-4 run to end the half up by 19-points 41-23 and sent Maccabi Tel Aviv reeling. How did Real do it? Felipe Reyes, Rudy Fernandez, Gustavo Ayon and Jaycee Carroll all came off the bench to drown the Yellow & Blue first with physical play inside and lethal shooting by Carroll from the outside and that was that as the veteran guard drilled 4 triples in the 2nd quarter.

I had a chance to catch up with Jaycee Carroll after the game and explained what happened in that now infamous second frame, “We just got hot and I was able to make some shots. When I start feeling it, the team starts looking for me and they start to give me opportunities. I want to be able to finish them.”

Thoughts about taking the Euroleague title for the second straight year:
“Ya, but it’s a long ways away and a lot of months, games and competition. At Madrid that’s the goal every year.”

About coach Pablo Laso and his secret to success:
“I think he’s a good players coach and he gives structure and let’s the players to play within that structure. He’s also had good players that play well together and worry more about the team than the individual.”

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3) Going 6/29 from beyond the arc with all being taken from the right elbow (in fact, Real took 31 3’s with 30 coming from the right elbow as well) for 20% is just not going to cut it. Angelo Caloiaro discussed the second quarter and spoke about how Maccabi’s shots just wouldn’t go down. “It was tough. I think the first quarter we were getting stops and even in the second quarter. We couldn’t hit shots and they were. They created separation and with a team like that, the Euroleague champs you got to be on your best game.”

More about the shooting struggles:
“I had 2-3 shots with open looks and we ran a good offense, we got shots we wanted but they didn’t fall and that hurts you. We had shots that we normally hit and we just didn’t. It was a tough night and against a team like Real that’s what happens.”

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Overtime
Alex Tyus’s a player who has seen the highs and the lows at Maccabi Tel Aviv and right now the team is juts struggling. I spoke to him about the game that was, “They were making shots the whole game, they did a great job making the 3 and we stopped scoring which made it hard for us.”

Any positives from the game?
“Not much. The positive is that we can learn from this and continue to get better and stay humble.”

Long season ahead:
“It’s a long season with a lot of games left. I think we have to take it one game at a time and not think in the future.”

And-1
1) One of the big challenges that Coach Neven Spahija has is to keep the players upbeat and understand that there is a lot of Basketball still to be played. I asked him how he’s planning on doing that, “It’s a big challenge but I have huge experience and I’m sure that I will help them to understand the right way not be down and work hard and go out of this.”

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2) One of the things I’ve learned about Real Madrid is how important the team aspect is. From my conversation with Fabien Causeur to my interview with Jaycee Carroll it’s clear that the players have checked their egos at the door in order to play as a team and win as a team and hopefully take titles and championships as a team. I asked Madrid Coach Pablo Laso about the importance of having a healthy Sergio Llull playing and not only did he like the question, he spoke about the team and the team and the team, “I am very glad you asked me about the players I have because usually at press conferences I’m asked about the played that left. I have had great players as Real Madrid always has something inside of all the players. It’s true that last year we lost Llull until the end but we were able to compete. Of course now that he’s back he’s important and a great player. Above any name it has to be the team. That’s something we focus on; to be a team in front of names.”