With Rami Hadar at the helm, the new Maccabi looked very similar to the old Maccabi of Erez Edelstein, giving up too many open shots along with not closing down the perimeter as visiting Galatasaray nailed 15/37 3-pointers. However, the Yellow & Blue had just enough juice to defeat the Turkish team by six.
Sonny Weems (23pts) drained 7 points in the first frame for Maccabi which ended 24-18 in favor of Gala as Sinai Guler (15pts) with 9 points and Justin Dentmon (22pts) with 7 after ten minutes of play paced the Turks. In the second quarter, Devin Smith (17pts) and Colton Iverson (17pts) scored 9 and 8 points respectively to help cut the lead down to 3 points at the half as Deon Thompson (10pts) inflicted most of the visitors damage from down low scoring 9 points of his own. 47-44 after twenty minutes.
Maccabi came out of the halftime break with a 6-0 run reminiscent of last week’s 16-0 run against Real Madrid to begin the third quarter but Sonny Weems quickly picked up his third foul followed by his fourth on a technical, sending him to the bench with 6 minutes left in the third quarter. But Andrew Goudelock (12pts) turned on the offense to keep Maccabi ahead entering the final quarter 69-65. The last ten minutes was a full team affair as Devin Smith (17pts), DJ Seely (7pts & 6 assist), Iverson, Weems and Goudelock all contributed in a 29 point quarter, sealing Maccabi’s first Euroleague win of the season 98-92.
1) The Israeli contingent didn’t make much progress from the last Euroleague game against Real Madrid when they scored 2 points in 35 minutes of play. This time around against Galatasaray they scored 6 points in 39 minutes with Gal Mekel still struggling mightily playing almost 9 minutes and not dropping one point. Ohayon played 15 minutes but went 0/3 from the field while draining just one three pointer, dishing out 3 assists and picking up 2 steals; just not good enough from the point guard position. I’m not sure how Hadar is going to get them out of this funk but he’s got a few hours on the airplane to Zalgiris to try and figure it out. When asked yesterday about the lack of Israelis playing in crunch time he said that he doesn’t look at passports but at how he is going to win the game. Yes, winning the game at this point is of the utmost importance and he can worry about nationalities later on.
2) The defense was atrocious once again. Maccabi allowed a whopping 37 shots from beyond the arc, an absolutely crazy amount. It seemed that the Yellow & Blue had no clue how to handle screens, switches and the ball movement that Galatasaray used all night night. Giving up 45 points from 3-point land is way, way, way too much. Hadar also commented on how the team allowed Gala to take 14 offensive rebounds, again a number that is just too high one didn’t let Maccabi to break away from their opponents and create a bigger lead during the course of the game.
3)Colton Iverson was The Sports Rabbi’s MVP for his fine play as he got the starting nod. Helping Maccabi offensively, the big man scored 17 points on 6/8 from the field, defensively he drew 8(!) fouls while picking up only one of his own and pulled down 5 rebounds. In his post game interview, Galatasaray coach Ergin Ataman said that while he didn’t change his preparations due to Rami Hadar replacing Erez Edelstein he was surprised to see Iverson in the starting lineup. I’m sure Maik Zirbes was surprised as well having to take a backup role.
Maccabi Has a brutal schedule coming up and if anyone thinks that Hadar will be able to practice some defensive schemes they are surely mistaken. Friday night in Zalgiris, followed up with the Derby away at Hapoel Tel Aviv and Barcelona on Wednesday night is no easy task even with things going as planned. Coming into a team in turmoil makes it all the more daunting. The next week will be a true test of character for the veteran players on this team.
They said it:
Maccabi Head Coach Rami Hadar:
“I think we struggled defensively and paid the price on the perimeter with the 3-point shots. We had a problem with the offensive rebounds and that caused us some issues not being able to open up the game. The players played hard but we still need to improve.”
The decision to start Colton Iverson in place of Maik Zirbes:
“I think that our two bigs did great work Colton on defense and on the boards. Sometimes it’s hard to give a straight answer and I had a feeling which was probably correct this evening.
On his first game as Maccabi Head Coach and on the Israeli contingent:
“I was focused and enjoyed the game. My goal is to win and I made decisions based on trying to win the game. The Israelis are players on the team and will play when needed just like everyone else.”