Five Israelis: Maccabi falls to Olympiacos 82-71

Maccabi Tel Aviv succumbed to Olympiacos 82-71 in a game that was never in doubt for the Greek team. Sylven Landesberg led all scorers with 17 points, however, five Olympiacos players featured in double digits as Erick Green had 16 points while Georgios Printezis and Matt Lojeski each dropped 15 points in the win.

The Rundown
Printezis came our strong for the visitors as he scored 8 first quarter points to give Olympiacos a 17-13 lead after ten minutes. The second frame saw Green score 7 points including a buzzer beater at the half to increase the Greek advantage to 40-32 as Victor Rudd, DJ Seely and Gal Mekel all ended the first twenty minutes with seven points a piece.

Olympiacos came out of the half strong and continued to decimate a short rotation Maccabi outscoring the Yellow & Blue 18-13 for a 58-45 lead thanks to 7-points each from Green and Kostas Papanikolaou. But Landesberg tried valiantly to pull the hosts back into the game in the final frame with 11 of his game high 17 points, however, Olympiacos proved to be too strong and fended off the comeback to win 82-71 and drop Maccabi to 8-16 in Euroleague action after 24 games.

1) I’m not quite sure what to make of the game. On one hand, Maccabi was majorly shorthanded and played with just 8 players plus a 32 second cameo by Nimrod Levi while Olympiacos played with a 9 man rotation throughout the contest; so how upset can one be as they did the best they could with what they had. On the other hand, it seemed like there was no clear game plan and the shot clock kept winding down on Maccabi with them having to take tough shots. Sure, Olympiacos played very tough aggressive defense and ran the Yellow & Blue ragged as Sylven Landesberg told me after the game, but it just seemed there was something missing. Maccabi couldn’t get proper shots off, there never seemed to be an open man, poor decisions on the court being taken my a number of players and at one point it just looked like they gave up. That’s not the Maccabi I want to see. I want to see a Maccabi that is going to fight every possession and take the best possible shots no matter how many players I may have available.

2) Maccabi took a total of 15 3-pointers in the game, 8 of which occurred in the 4th quarter and made 5 of them in total. That’s just not good enough, both from the amount of three’s that were made on their home-court to only shooting 7(!) 3’s over the first 30 minutes, especially when Olympiacos kept such a nice lead throughout. As for rebounds, the Yellow & Blue were out-boarded 40-30 while hitting only 10/16 from the charity stripe. Those shots were uncontested, so you’ve got to go at least 90% not the dismal 63% that was the reality. Those were free points that were lost in a game that may have been just a little bit closer.

3) To start off the second quarter and near the end of the game, Maccabi had five Israelis on the court. In fact, Israelis got more than 50% of the minutes against Olympiacos due to the injury situation. However, it was still fascinating to see Landesberg, Segev, Mekel, Pnini and Ohayon all on the court at once. I bet you this was never envisioned in a billion years by management, the professional staff and fans back months ago when the Yellow & Blue built the 2016/17 model. It’s really ironic that there were 5(!) Israelis on the parquet at once. I wonder how many people ever imagined that would happen this week when management was building the team for a full Euroleague campaign.

The addition of Diamon Simpson and Nimrod Levi is definitely good news as they both can play a factor going forward be it in the Euroleague with the former and the Israeli league with the latter. Maccabi was desperate for some help and now they got some. Simpson had played in Israel over the course of three seasons with Nes Tziona and Ashdod, and will get a chance to return to the Holy Land once again with Maccabi Tel Aviv. Simpson will not be registered to play in the Israeli league but solely in European competition. I’m not so sure that’s too good though. If I’m Maccabi, I’ve got to register Simpson for the Israeli games without a doubt because I want this player to take as much in as possible and play as much as he can in any and every situation.

Ainars Bagatskis, Maccabi FOX Tel Aviv
“Olympiacos used every situation, any advantage they could get like at the end of quarters. The players did their best. I think we didn’t lose because of defense, but on offense. It was hard having the short rotation; I’d like to see how other teams would manage without four guys. I’m happy for our guys who fought, didn’t give up. We just missed shots at the end.”

Sylven Landesberg, Maccabi FOX Tel Aviv
“It’s tough to play with a short rotation, but it’s part of what happens in a season and we went out there and fought hard. I think we settled for too many three-point shots. We’ll be alright soon when we’ll get players back.”

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