Monaco came back with a vengeance to show why they ended the regular season in 4th place earning home court advantage as they knocked off Maccabi Tel Aviv 86-74 in a one sided affair from the get go. Despite the yellow-and-blue being only one point down, 42-41 at the half, it was never their game to win as Jordan Loyd’s 13 points in the third quarter and 31 overall for the game gave Sasa Obradovic’s team a double digit advantage heading into the final frame and effectively polished off any chance of a Maccabi comeback.
With the series all knotted up at 1-1, games 3 and 4 will shift to Israel and Yad Eliyahu where a raucous yellow-and-blue crowd will be waiting as Oded Katash’s squad will look to end the series on their home court.
Baldwin led the way with 17 points and Brown added 16 points in the loss. Loyd starred for Monaco with 33 points, Yakuba Ouattara added 12 points while both Elie Okobo and Mike James each chipped in with 11 points each in the win.
“Everybody saw what happened, it was a physical and aggressive game,” Maccabi coach Oded Katash said. “I liked what I saw and we never gave up. We put in the right effort in this contest in order to win like game one but this one ended with a different result. The run that they made at the start of the game and later on were tough on us and they have a number of good defenders. We have to be calmer on the offensive side and more focussed.”
“What a big win,” Sasa Obradovic said. “We had very little time to prepare for such an opponent ahead of the series. They surprised us tactically and we were not ready for this as our head was still in that Cup game. We lost our home court and we will have it harder but we know now how to play against them. We have to have great mental preparation for the game there.”
During the early warmups, Mike James was serenaded by the Maccabi fans riding him hard after having a subpar game two days earlier but it was Loyd, Elie Okobo and Yakuba Outarra who did the damage early and often ensuring a repeat of game one’s poor shooting. While Wade Baldwin and Lorenzo Brown tried to keep the visitors in the game, no one else was able to make an impact as tempers boiled over in the final frame. Darrun Hilliard was ejected first early on in the fourth quarter while Baldwin joined him later on ending any type of comeback.
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Prior to the game, the Maccabi fans made their presence felt as they marched from a local square to the arena with fireworks, flags and song just as the players bus arrived. Yellow and Blue flares filled the air, as Hava Nagila and other fan favorites were the tunes of choice by the supporters.
However, it was Yakuba Ouattara who conducted the orchestra to begin the game as he went for a pair from deep while Jordan Loyd also scored from the outside and inside to take a quick 11-0 lead but Wade Baldwin drained a pair from long distance to get Maccabi Tel Aviv back into the contest 13-10 midway through the first quarter. Loyd kept busy driving into the paint, Mike James went in for a reverse layup, Lorenzo Brown went from downtown, Jarell Martin hit a corner 3-ball, Baldwin dropped a midrange while Roman Sorkin blocked Donta Hall at the buzzer to keep the hosts lead at a minimum 22-18 after ten minutes of play.
How fitting was it that Yakuba Outtara featured to get the game off to a good start for Sasa Obradovic’s team after not having played a second in game one. The Ghanaian born guard having played who has played in international competitions for France, is in his second term with the club, after having played in the principality back between 2018-20 when the team was the Eurocuo took his benching personal as he was the first of the guards to make their mark on the game.
Sorkin continued to feature to begin the second quarter but this time in the offensive end with 5 straight points, Darrun Hilliard went from deep, but Elie Okobo got hot with a trio of baskets to keep the hosts in front 33-26 with 5:47 left in the first half. The duo of Baldwin and Brown got to work for Oded Katash’s crew, as the pace picked up to a crescendo when Jake Cohen and John Brown got into it as Motiejunas and Ouattara scored and Loyd drained a pair from from deep, a busy Brown came back with a layup,
The second of Monaco’s guards Jordan Loyd who needed to find his rhythm after a dreadful game one performance got rolling with 14 first half points as the one time Hapoel Eilat guard made sure to remind everyone that he is still one of the best of the best. Loyd who was with the Toronto Raptors during their championship season gained overnight fame by being in a frame wide-eyed while crouching when Kawhi Leonard hit his game winner to knock out the 76ers in the playoffs. The Chicago native also played for Valencia, Red Star and Zenit St. Petersburg in the Euroleague and out together a solid season to help Monaco earn home court advantage.
Of course who came out to begin the third quarter with points? None other than Loyd from beyond the arc for a pair and Ouattara off a steal to quickly bump the 1-point lead up to 10 points in under 2 minutes. Ouattara once again scored and then a quiet Mike James did the same, but Baldwin and Alex Poythress found points to keep Maccabi hanging around but down 57-49 midway through the third quarter. Jaron Blossomgame went from deep, Loyd added a basket, Bonzie Colson scored his first points of the game but it was Monaco who took a 67-54 lead after thirty minutes.
While the Maccabi pairing of Brown and Baldwin kept scoring their points with 26 combined, Loyd himself scored 26 as no one else on the yellow-and-blue put their stamp on the game as one miss after the next really made a dent in Maccabi’s game plan as there had been a definite air of cautious optimism heading into game two.
Diallo and Okobo scored to open the fourth quarter Hilliard and Nebo answered but Hilliard was ejected after receiving a technical foul his 5th of the game sending him to the showers while Baldwin joined him later on in the period with a second technical of his own effectively ending Maccabi’s night as Loyd drilled another triple to help Monaco tie the series up at 1-1.