Better Luck Next Year – Maccabi eliminated from Euroleague playoff contention

Maccabi Tel Aviv fell to Baskonia 83-72 and were eliminated from playoff contention in Euroleague action. The loss moves Maccabi to 13-16 after Gameday 29 as they will play their final game next Friday at Valencia. The Yellow & Blue kept the contest close throughout going into halftime down only by 4 points 38-34 but just couldn’t overcome Pedro Martinez’s team. Pierre Jackson scored 14 points to lead Maccabi while Art Parakhouski and Deshaun Thomas each added 12 points a piece. Johannes Voightmann scored 14 points for Baskonia in the win.

1) Again Maccabi fell short of their goals both in the game itself and overall in the Euroleague this season. Where does the fault lie? It’s a combination of a number of issues. A new team, players with very little Euroleague experience, just not being good enough to a lack of leadership or star power. The Euroleague is a tough league, don’t fool yourself if you’re an NBA junkie. Each Gameday in the Euroleague is like an NBA Playoff game; tough defense, clutch offense and all out intensity for 40 minutes. Maccabi was just not good enough to compete at this level. If you look at the Top 8 teams you’ll see oodles and oodles of experienced players from Baskonia’s Tornike Shegelia to CSKA’s Sergio Rodriguez and the list can go on and on. The Yellow & Blue need that type of player. Sure, they aren’t easy to find, but there is now a base for 2018/19 and Maccabi needs to fill in the places where they came up short.

2) Maccabi just doesn’t have enough scoring at this level and they struggled mightily from every which angle on the floor. Whether it was from 2 (47%), 3 (33%) or free throws (46%), the percentages were abysmal and if you want to win games in the Euroleague those numbers need to improve. One of the places where Maccabi needs to find better scoring and leadership is from the guard position as Norris Cole, Pierre Jackson, Michael Roll and DeAndre Kane went a combined 12/34 (YIKES) from the field.

3) John DiBartolomeo was on the floor for only 2:37 and that’s just not enough especially if you’re trying to give him more and more Euroleague experience. The Captain who signed a 3 year contract with the team, earned MVP honors last season and will be a key cog the rest of the way needs to play more and more and more. His heart and effort is unquestionable and DiBartolomeo must play minutes in the Euroleague in order for him to continue to develop. Jake Cohen and Karam Mashour didn’t play while Yovel Zoosman clocked in 10 minutes but couldn’t find the basket. All of those guys need to play especially now with only the Israeli league left to fight for.

Head Coach Neven Spahija not only summed up the loss to Baskonia but the season as well with his post game quotes, “I think that, overall, we played a pretty solid game. We put them in trouble, but to win here against Baskonia, you have to play better basketball. We have to make shots and we missed a lot. We missed many open shots, free throws and if you want to play at this level, to win the game, you simply have to do better, and we didn’t do that tonight. We prepared the game well, but like I said, if you want to beat this team, one of the best in Europe, you need to score a bit more. We hit 6 of 13 free throws, missed some open shots and they hit a three-point shot in the final second [of the first quarter]. We had three consecutive turnovers, two of Norris and one by Jonah Bolden, and it was hard for us after that. Baskonia is a tough, physical team with a deep roster in which everyone can play.” Overall, Maccabi has played solid ball all season long, missed many open shots and free throws and have to do better. Most teams in the new Euroleague are some of the best in Europe, while turnovers cost the Yellow & Blue in many a game. They played against another team with a tough and deep roster, something that Maccabi is sorely lacking. Better luck next year.

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