Accepting mediocrity: Maccabi’s indecisiveness is a decision in itself

Dec 17, 2021 | Holyland Hoops

Six games in a row. That’s what the Maccabi Tel Aviv Euroleague losing streak is at. Six. In NBA terms and if you multiply out the amount of games played in both leagues means it’s equivalent to a 14 games slide. Now that is pretty brutal, especially when EFES star Shane Larkin proved to be head and shoulders above Scottie Wilbekin in Anadolu’s 92-78 win at Yad Eliyahu.

There’s a reason why Yellow & Blue coach Ioannis Sfairopoulos looked so disheartened when he came into the post game press conference. He was a broken man, a man without answers and one who answered every single question with patience but also with very few concrete answers.

The closest answer we to one which was that of change was he replied, “Maybe I will talk with the management. Maybe I will have more news coming.”

The question is what type of news and what type of changes.

Ioannis Sfairopoulos – Photo Credit: Dov Halickman

Is Ioannis planning on handing in the keys to the car? Will the club send a number of players who have underperformed this season home? And boy are there a good number of players who fit that profile. Whose fault is it? Coach? Players? Management?

Well, it’s all three.

It’s clear that there is enough blame to pass around with players such as James Nunnally, Derrick Williams and Jalen Reynolds deserving plenty of that.

Sfairopoulos also gets his fair share with his various lineups and decision to play or not to play certain players.

Management needs to make a change and stop the snowball that continues to barrel down the standings. If they want Sfairopoulos to remain in his role then they have to make some personnel changes or if they want to make a change on the sidelines they need to do that as well. But continuing to go out onto the outer with what they have is not going to cut it this season.

It wasn’t so long ago that Maccabi was 7-3 and now they are 7-9. Change is not a maybe, it’s a necessity.

Photo Credir: Dov Halickman

While Nunnally’s averages are decent at 12.9 points and 4.1 rebounds a game he has been a disaster all season long shooting just 32% from 3-point range. Add to that the fact that many of his points including the 18 earlier in the week against Fenerbahce were during glorified garbage time his plus/minus against EFES was a -18 while scoring 14 points which in essence is a -32 if you take away the points he scored.

Williams has lost his way averaging a pitiful 7.3 points over the last 6 games while looking clueless on both sides of the court playing absolutely zero defense over the course of the losing streak. The power forward his a shell of the player that we saw at the start of the year and it’s as if someone pulled the plug in him.

Reynolds is another lost soul putting in 6.5 points and taking 3 boards per game during the losing streak! YIKES! Not only has he been a disaster offensively he has even been worse defensively showing almost no effort and forcing Sfairopoulos to use Ante Zizic for a slew of minutes that the Croatian big man looked like he was wiped out when he was at the post game presser.

Jalen Reynolds – Photo Credir: Dov Halickman

Something has got to give with this trio of players. What will be still remains to be seen but they have not done any service to their head coach who continued to go back to the well with them, especially Nunnally and Williams who played 25 and 27 minutes respectively against EFES.

Which leads to the issue of why is coach Sfairopoulos playing these players an insane amount of minutes while according their mediocre productivity?

Another question which needs to be asked is why Oz Blayzer, who had arguably been there best player over the past couple of weeks only gets 4 minutes over the course of these two Euroleague games? Blayzer who will give his heart and soul on the court was basically told by not playing him, well you’re just not good enough to play. Sorry, I’ll keep going to the well with my import veterans.

Finally management led by general manager Nikola Vujcic who helped build this team deserve some blame as well not seeing that Reynolds was not the same player at the end of last season at Bayern than he was at the beginning. That Williams has not won with any Euroleague team and lacks defensive skills and Nunnally is just, well, an issue who has caused problems in practice, with other teams and o social media. Is this the guy you really want to have on your team.

Scottie Wilbekin – Photo Credit: Dov Halickman

Last but not least is Scottie Wilbekin, Ioannis Sfairopoulos’s leader. The guard was throughly outplayed by Larkin all night long and it wasn’t even close of one tried to compare the two. Larkin, 26 points going 6/7 from deep plus 6 assists while Wilbekin scored 10 points, 1/8 from 3 and 4 assists. KO for Larkin by far.

But forget about the on court play. Wilbekin needed to come out to the press conference and back up his coach and not let him hang out to dry. That is what a real leader would have done. Instead Zizic and Kameron Taylor (?) we’re rolled out.

Wilbekin needed to sit at the dais and speak to the fans, forget about us the media who convey the messages that the coach and players give. He had to be out there and support Sfairopoulos just as the coach had done when Wilbekin’s abilities were questioned, and he did not.

Sfairopoulos has lost THIS team, but THE team can be salvaged of management makes the right moves. There are still 18 games remaining in the Euroleague season but changes have to come fast and furious at this point.

Changes need to be immediate, not after the next game, or the next game or the next game.

Everyone involved have made mistakes, mistakes that perhaps can still be corrected but they have to be corrected now and not later or else Maccabi is headed towards another season of mediocrity.

Being indecisive is a decision in itself which ultimately leads to nowhere. Is that where Maccabi Tel Aviv wants to be?

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