Maccabi Tel Aviv fell to Red Star Belgrade 71-67 as Andrew Goudelock led the Yellow & Blue offense with 19-points, however, it was crunch time baskets by Stefan Jovic, Marko Simonovic and Ognjen Kuzmic that helped the visitors to the win.
Colton Iverson featured prominently in a close first quarter as number 24 scored 6 points from inside to give Maccabi a slim 17-16 lead after ten minutes. Goudelock added six points of his own in the second quarter as the low scoring affair went into halftime with the Yellow & Blue continuing to maintain the 1-point advantage 34-33.
Goudelock’s two 3-pointers helped Maccabi to a 54-48 lead after three quarters, but Jovic, Simonovic and Kuzmic came to rescue to snatch the 71-68 win at the end of the game. The Yellow & Blue will now prepare for Saturday night’s Derby at Yad Eliyahu against Hapoel Tel Aviv.
1) Maccabi did everything in their power to play at 110%, keep the game close and even though undermanned, stay in the lead until yet again, crunch time. The Yellow & Blue did alright up until 4:04 to go when they scored their last basket via Colton Iverson to take a 5-point, 67-62 advantage. However, that’s when it all unraveled for Coach Ainars Bagatskis and his crew. A combination of ill timed shots, missed opportunities, Iverson picking up his 4th foul and Red Star going right after the big man to score two clutch buckets did Maccabi in. Of course, there was also some individualism that had to be thrown in for good measure and that was that. Another loss. Another disappointment.
2) Turnovers. Maccabi committed 16 of them broken down as follows, 4,7,1,4 with the last quarter’s happening in what seemed to be the worst possible time, at the end. There was also a number of traveling calls along with stepping out of bounds thrown in for good measure. Compared to Red Star who had 4,2,0,1, over the last three quarters the Serbian team committed just 3 to Maccabi’s 12. With a shooting percentage of 55% going 18/33 from 2-points and 8/22 for 36% from beyond the arc, plus add to that a rebounding advantage of 35-30 and even on offensive boards with 11 a piece, Maccabi should have won this game. But as Coach Ainars Bagatskis said to me at the press conference, “Tight games are always decided by small things.” And that was certainly proven yet again.
3) The lockerroom was a really depressing place last night, much more so than after other losses that Maccabi has experienced this season. It seemed that the players were just out of explanations. From Devin Smith to Sonny Weems, they were all down in the dumps and who could blame them. Last week, as I looked at the schedule of the 13 remaining games in the Euroleague season, I figured at best Maccabi would go 9-4 giving them an overall record of 15-15 and hopefully squeak into the playoffs. Of course the home contest against Red Star was one of those 9 wins. Well, so much for that. Sonny Weems really spoke from the heart, almost in tears, “I’m hurt man. I wanted to win so bad and I wanted to go to the final four so bad. It’s really frustrating.”
I really like Coach Bagatskis. Not only is he an excellent basketball person, he’s a good man. You could also see his frustration after the game, not knowing what he’d be able to do to get Maccabi out of the situation that they find themselves in. Sonny Weems spoke about things just not coming together over the summer at training camp while Coach Bagatskis didn’t have that luxury coming into arguably a no-win situation last month, trying to pick up the pieces of a broken team. He was certainly happy with his team’s performance last night as they all gave over 110% and left everything on the floor. As he said, no one can say that y single player didn’t do his utmost to find the victory, but it just wasn’t good enough to score the W. Should he have been the Head Coach from Day 1, would Maccabi have been able to win all of the close games that they’ve had plus not have blown leads and succumb to defeat? We’ll never know the true answer unless Bagatskis has a full season, training camp and a chance to build his own roster. If it was up to me, I’d give him a shot. I believe he’s showed me enough over the past number of games that proves he knows his X’s and O’s. The real question is, has management?
They Said it:
Ainars Bagatskis, Head Coach Maccabi FOX Tel Aviv
“As we were expecting, it was a tough game. We played against, I don’t want to say a really good team, we played against a smart team, an aggressive team. A team that knows what to do in exactly every situation. But we were in the game from minute one. You cannot see very often statistically, first time in a long time I see this, in [performance index rating] we won. We won all the statistics. Always I say good defense is supposed to connect with smart offense. There were a few decisions, not at the end of the game, but the middle of the fourth quarter, misunderstandings between perimeter players, 1 rebound, 1 turnover, that changed the game for us. ”
Dejan Radonjic, Head Coach Red Star Belgrade
“Congratulations to my players. Tough game for us. Maccabi played without some important players. Zirbes is an important player of course. Miller of course. But they played with Goudelock, Weems, other good players. We played solid the first half, solid in defense, solid in offense. We continued the same way in the second half. We played a little bit better in defense, but they made some very, very tough shots, especially Goudelock and in the last minutes we needed to play much better in defense and much better in offense and we played like that, excellent defensively and vert smart offensively. Big success for us. We played very god, but we can play better. ”
Andrew Goudelock, Maccabi FOX Tel Aviv
“Same things happen every game. At the end of games, we stop executing, forget our defensive principles. It’s frustrating. There’s still a long way to go in the season. I don’t know how many games we need to win in the EuroLeague, but we will try to fight to turn things around and find our chemistry.”
Devin Smith, Maccabi FOX Tel Aviv
“We didn’t make enough plays down the stretch and they had some key baskets in the lane and on the pick and roll. On the other hand we just couldn’t make the right plays. We have to be more mentally strong and engaged at the end.”
Ognjen Kuzmic Red Star Belgrade
“The last two minutes we played great defense and they didn’t score. That was the key of the game.”