Maccabi Tel Aviv came up short 79-74 against Olympiacos as the yellow-and-blue couldn’t dig out of a 15-point halftime deficit in Belgrade. Without Wade Baldwin who was out due to a stomach virus, Head Coach Oded Katash’s squad allowed 51 first half points to the Greeks as Alec Peters and Thomas Walkup built up the double digit lead. Tamir Blatt and Roman Sorkin scored at will in the seance half to cut the lead down to just a pair of points late in the game but that was as close that Maccabi would get as their Euroleague record dropped to 4-3 on the season.
Next up is Fenerbahce on Thursday as Israeli guard Yam Madar and former Maccabi star Scottie Wilbekin will face the yellow-and-blue in Serbia as they will look to get back onto the winning track.
Sorkin led all scorers with 16 points, Blatt added 13 points while Jasiel Rivero and James Webb each scored 10 points in the loss. Peters and Walkup scored 13 points a piece, while Isaiah Canaan and Moustapha Fall each dropped 10 points in the win.
“We lost the game in the first half defensively,” Katash explained following the game. “We did a good job in the second half defensively and played with the right energy to give ourselves a chance to win the game. It wasn’t our best day but the last twenty minutes we brought the right energy. There are no easy games in the Euroleague especially in a double week. It’s tough and hopefully we get a win back and we have to get ready in 48 hours and it’s not easy.”
“We didn’t expect anything other than a difficult game,” Olympiacos Head Coach Georgios Bartzokas said. “We are going through a difficult period. We have a very sort rotation due to injuries so our preparation is not ideal. During the game itself we lost Nigel Williams-Goss and Alec Peters But we were lucky that Luke Sikma came back and gave us 10 important minutes, This win was vey important. We were leading the score the whole game, the 50/50 balls and everything that was doubtful went against us.”
Tamir Blatt reflected on the loss, “We were able to comeback into the game due to our defense but it wasn’t enough to win the game. Giving up 51 points in the first half is just too much and isn’t how we should be playing. That is something that we need to improve. Personally, I felt good but it isn’t important if we lost and now we have to turn our sights onto Thursday’s game.”
Isaiah Canaan and Thomas Walkup scored for Olympiacos while James Webb and John Dibartolomeo did the same for Maccabi Tel Aviv early on as the visitors grabbed a 9-7 lead midway through the first quarter. Canaan, Alec Peters and Walkup all went quickly from deep to open up the lead, Luke Sikma fresh off of an injury also scored a pair of baskets as Tamir Blatt’s buckets helped keep the yellow-and-blue deficit in single digits as the Greeks lead 27-19 after ten minutes of play.
Blatt, Jake Cohen and Jasiel Rivero all drilled home 3-pointers to open up the second quarter but Nigel Williams-Goss and Peters scored to bump the lead up to 41-30 forcing Maccabi bench boss Oded Katash to call timeout with 5:32 left in the first half. Lorenzo Brown and Webb scored, Peters dialed up long distance and Michalis Lountzis scored to send Georgios Bartzokas’s squad into half-time with a 51-36 lead.
Brown and Blatt found points to begin the third quarter, Kostas Papanikolaou responded by scoring from the inside and outside to increase the lead to 58-44 midway through the frame. Bonzie Colson and Alec Peters traded baskets as the latter then picked up his 5th foul, Roman Sorkin and Rivero put pressure on Olympiacos inside but the Piraeus based team stayed in front 64-55 after thirty minutes of action.
Rivero began the fourth quarter with a 3-point play, Sorkin added a bucket and one as well as a deuce but Moustapha Fall came back with a basket to keep Olympiacos ahead 70-63 with 5:55 remaining in regulation time. Webb put in a rebound, Walkup responded, Blatt came back with a jumper, Sokrin drained a triple to cut the lead to 74-72 but Walkup scored at the other end as Olympiacos hit their free throws to close out the game and notch the win.