Maccabi Tel Aviv came up two points short, falling to Olympia Milano 99-97 in the first game of the newly revamped Euroleague. Andrew Goudelock starred for the Yellow & Blue dropping 27 points to lead all scorers but it was two ex-Maccabi players who did their former team in. Ricky Hickman and Milan Macvan combined for 40 points to lead the way for Milano scoring at will at times against a very weak Maccabi defense.
After an even first half, the hosts broke away to take a 7-point lead in the 3rd frame. Milano went on a 10-0 run but the Yellow & Blue answered with a 9-0 run of their own, however, it wasn’t enough to stop the dynamic duo of Hickman & Macvan. The 4th quarter saw the home side take two 10-point leads, the last with 2:28 left in the contest, but each time Maccabi chipped away to hang around in the ball game.
With 3-seconds left and Hickman on the line, the guard went 1/2 missing his first free throw and hitting his second leaving Guy Pnini to take the inbounds pass. Surprising everyone on the court, Maccabi’s number 10 sent a full court pass right to Sylven Landesberg, but his shot was blocked by Jamel McLean preserving the win.
1- Maccabi has plenty of work to do on the defensive side of their game. Allowing Milano to shoot 57% from the field along with 9/22 from beyond the arc while giving up 99 points isn’t going to cut it in the Euroleague. Milano went to school down low taking advantage of weak defending by Victor Rudd and Maik Zirbes with back door cuts and finding the one man when the Maccabi defender didn’t pick up a switch. We saw this same movie last week against Darussafaka when the Yellow & Blue gave up 90 points to its former coach David Blatt’s team. Coach Erez Edelstein has plenty of work to do.
2- Poor offensive displays from Gal Mekel with 2 points in 13 minutes, Victor Rudd and Guy Pnini with zero points a piece in 14 and 16 minutes respectively is disappointing to say the least. Add to that 5 points from Yogev Ohayon, it’s quite amazing that Maccabi scored 97 points in the game. This quartet will have to make a much bigger contribution of the team is to make waves in Europe this year. Sure it’s only the first game but it’s concerning nonetheless.
3- Andrew Goudelock was fabulous scoring 27 points on 8/9 shooting. Not only is he a pro on the parquet, he’s also one off of it and a gamer too. Following the matchup he stated plain and simple: “It’s embarrassing to give up 99 points in the Euroleague.” Having players that aren’t afraid to make up excuses are the guys you want to go to war with; these are the players who will leave it all out on the floor for the full 40 minutes and perhaps more. When Sonny Weems comes back from injury he’ll be another one who will put in 110%+ each and every game. At the end of the day these are the pros that you want to have in the trenches with you when you go to battle and this year’s 30 game Euroleague will be one long battle all season long.
Having a healthy Devin Smith back makes a huge difference. The veteran played 30 minutes, scored 18 points, went 6/7 from the charity stripe and pulled down 7 rebounds. Not too shabby for number 6 who came off of a lengthy injury. If Maccabi wants to make waves this season a fit Smith will be key.