Maccabi Tel Aviv were clobbered by Anadolu EFES 99-79 as their Euroleague record fell to 11-5 after Gameday 16. The Yellow & Blue hung tough over the first half but the Turkish squad pulled away in the third quarter as Rodrigue Beaubois, Vasilije Micic and Krunoslav Simon ratcheted up the offense to score the knockout.
Micic led the way with 23 points, Beaubois clocked in with 22 points and Simon added 19 points in the win. Jake Cohen scored 15 points and Scottie Wilbekin had 22 points in the loss.
Scottie Wilbekin hit a pair of triples while Hunter scored inside to give Maccabi Tel Aviv an 11-8 lead midway through the first quarter. Krunoslav Simon and Shane Larkin sparked a 7-0 run but Hunter hit a jumper and Jake Cohen dropped a layup in the paint. But a hot Simon kept scoring at will while Vasilije Micic hit free throws to give the hosts a 23-19 lead after ten minutes.
Simon hit a 3-pointer as did Rodrigue Beaubois but Deni Avdija and Jake Cohen teamed up for points as did Angelo Caloiaro and Elijah Bryant as EFES continued to lead 34-32 with five minutes left in the half. Beaubois drained a pair of triples and then free throws as Dorsey was called for an unsportsmanlike foul as EFES went up 48-41 at the break.
Wilbekin opened the frame with a 3 but then EFES went on a 20-5 run thanks to Micic, Simon and Beaubois as Ergin Ataman’s squad grabbed a 68-49 advantage midway through the third quarter. Tibor Pleiss scored a couple of layups as EFES took an 80-58 advantage into the final ten minutes.
The fourth quarter saw the two squads trade baskets in a frame that featured garbage time galore as EFES ran off with a 20-point, 99-79 victory.
It looked as if there wasn’t much to take away from this game other than the fact that Maccabi didn’t give up hope over the last quarter when they were down by 22 points. The coaches kept coaching and the players kept playing but once EFES had opened up such a big gap and with Maccabi featuring a very, very short roster. And that’s the concern, a short roster. Aaron Jackson is still on the runway, Nate Wolters won’t be back for at least another 3-4 weeks while the injuries to Tarik Black, Omri Casspi and John Dibartolomeo are long term. The Yellow & Blue have to make a move if they want a chance to maintain their position in the standings and if the message hadn’t been received yet, it certainly was now. Ioannis Sfairopoulos must find a big man quickly and possibly another guard. On top of that, Maccabi needs to find another Israeli to take the load off in Israeli league games so when they play a team like Hapoel Gilboa Galil they don’t go into the game with just six rotation players and then have to play a double overtime contest just days before a huge Euroleague tilt in Istanbul.
2) The big showdown between Scottie Wilbekin and Shane Larkin never really materialized as Vasilije Micic, Krunoslav Simon and Rodrigue Beaubois ended up doing the damage for EFES while Wilbekin’s ankle was giving him problems in the first half holding the guard to just 17 minutes of action. Many were looking forward to seeing a slugfest between the two guards but it just never happened. Sure they both ended the night in double figures but they didn’t have the impact on the game that one thought they were going to have. But that’s also an attribute to Ataman’s team that has multiple options on the attack. Whether it’s from the outside or on the inside, EFES is a very talented and powerful offensive side. Coach Sfairopoulos spoke about exactly that, “Efes has good quality. If you don’t play tough and you allow them to feel comfortable and to shoot however the rhythm goes, if you don’t break the rhythm, it’s very difficult to stop them. That’s why they scored 99 points. They have the quality, they have the experience. After that, we were fighting and we scored close to 80 points, but defensively we were not very good. We need to learn from this game to play much better, much tougher.”
3) Looking at some of the positives from the game, one has to take into account both Jake Cohen and Deni Avdija’s play for Maccabi as they were terrific for many minutes when they were on the floor especially together. Cohen ended with 15 points and 4 rebounds in 19 minutes while Avdija played 23 minutes and went 6p/6a/6a. Not bad for the 18 year old who will be heading to the NBA Draft in just under six months from now. But one of things that I picked up was how Cohen and Avdija play off of each other as they are able to read one another very well. Whether it was cuts to the basket or passing instinctively they seem to really play well together.
The third quarter was a disaster plain and simple as Maccabi Tel Aviv got walloped 32-17 which gave EFES the separation they needed and off they went. Coach Sfairopoulos looked at this frame being the key the defeat, “the most important part of the game was the third period when we allowed 32 points and we were not defending tough. After the first 5 minutes, they scored 18 points, we didn’t make 1 foul. In the third period, they scored 32 total points and we still had 2 fouls to give. This showed that we were not focused to play smart on defense and be tough and to avoid some baskets that we could have avoided.”
But as I mentioned earlier, the fourth quarter was able to give Maccabi some positives as they continued to fight and actually came out on top in the final frame 21-19. “Even when it’s a large margin it’s still time to learn and build and get guys minutes who don’t play all the time,” explained Elijah Bryant. “There are positives from the game and we can learn from it as well.” Jake Cohen echoed his teammate’s sentiments, “We had some good moments in the game but EFES took advantage of some of our bad moments in the third quarter and against a team like that and they got going. We have some good things and bad things to learn from.”