Maccabi Tel Aviv lost to Baskonia 97-73 in Vitoria as their Euroleague record fell to 9-12. Scottie Wilbekin led the Maccabi scorers with 19 points while Johnny O’Bryant added 15 points in the defeat. Johannes Voightmann dropped 20 points and Darrun Hilliard scored 19 points for Baskonia in the win as they moved their record to 10-11.
Baskonia took a 26-18 lead after ten minutes as Johannes Voightmann scored 10 points and Savon Shields added 7 points going 4/7 from deep while Tarik Black and Scottie Wilbekin each dropped 8 points for Maccabi. Hilliard helped give the host’s a 41-24 lead with 6:09 left in the half, while Voightmann continued his sharp shooting to take a 54-41 advantage after twenty minutes.
Vildoza, Shields and Janning used their offense to increase the Baskonia lead to 81-57 by the end of the third quarter as the final frame was garage time supreme as Deni Avdija played the entire quarter and scored a pair of triples as Maccabi fell 97-73.
1) This game was over early, very early. Johannes Voightmann murdered Maccabi in the first quarter and Baskonia never looked back. Against one the teams that they will be battling for a top 8 spot, the Yellow & Blue came up short, way, way short and looked like the Maccabi of circa October/November 2018. Vincent Poirier on the inside and Voightmann on the outside left the Maccabi defense in shambles. Add to that a marvelous showing by Darrun Hilliard and Maccabi ran into the perfect storm with no way to escape. Without both Toko Shengelia and Jayson Granger, you just wonder why Maccabi looked so bad. Let’s face it Ioannis Sfairopoulos’s squad were never in the game.
2) Maccabi was never in the game and very quickly the game was out of control. The whole team couldn’t play a lick of defense. Add to that Maccabi didn’t foul much in the first half and in fact committed only 3 fouls in the second quarter and that’s just not enough. It was one poor play after the next as coach Sfairopoulos summed up, “We didn’t play good defense and Baskonia scored 97 points. Tough home crowd and we allowed them to score easy and we couldn’t stay in the game. We were not tough and aggressive. We have to go back to put positive results with not only offense but defense too.”
3) The Yellow & Blue just let Baskonia be too comfortable and didn’t challenge them enough. Michael Roll expressed exactly that following the game, “They took it to us for 40 minutes, We came out and didn’t have it at all. We let them be comfortable and they are a good team and they can score. We didn’t play well at all and didn’t have that fight from the tip.” Maccabi’s high scorer Scottie Wilbekin felt almost exactly the same way that Roll did, “We didn’t come out with enough energy and string enough on defense We were a step slow and behind them. We were always reacting to what they were doing and on the road you can’t do that. We allowed them to be too comfortable and allowed them to make their open shots.”
The truth is that Maccabi could lose a game or two or even 3 until the end of the season and still make it into the top 8 but the conditions were that the Yellow & Blue should have won this game. With a charter flight instead of a connecting one through Madrid as well as no Shenglia and no Granger and they still couldn’t take advantage of their situation. Was it the double overtime game against Ashdod on Monday that set them back? I doubt it. After five wins in a row, the percentages just caught with them and although they didn’t win today, they don’t want to lose against Olympiacos at home. Speaking of Olympiacos, David Blatt’s squad got bombed at home as they fell to Barcelona 76-55. Michael Roll looked ahead to the balance of the season and next week’s game against the Greeks, “We still have 9 games left and we can win a lot of them. But we have a big game next week and its much more than just Maccabi versus Olympiacos.” Much more for sure as David Blatt makes his return to Yad Eliyahu with Olympiacos and Ioannis Sfairopoulos faces his former team. The side stories will be tremendous. And a Maccabi loss would be disastrous.