Maccabi Tel Aviv flounders against Red Star’s F-U-N-D-A-M-E-N-T-A-L-S as they look gift horse in mouth

Mar 11, 2022 | Holyland Hoops

Let’s face it Maccabi Tel Aviv is just not a good team. They just aren’t and that has been the case since the start of the season. It’s nothing new. They don’t have a professional coach on the sidelines and they were totally schooled by a well-oiled Red Star Belgrade team which was exactly that; a team who played like a true team.

The Yellow & Blue had a wonderful opportunity to take advantage of a gift from heaven, Manna from the sky and a chance to secure a playoff spot for the first time since 2015 due to the 3 Russian teams being on the outside looking in due to the war. But no they looked a gift horse in the mouth. Maccabi couldn’t find a way to do that as they fell 84-77 at the fabled old Pionir Arena the site of the club’s first ever European Championship.


Because they just aren’t that good. Period.

That’s certainly not to say that Red Star is having a good season as they are not with a 13-15 record. But they certainly knew how to play fundamental basketball out-rebounding Maccabi by enormous gap, 46-27 while getting their behinds spanked on the offensive boards 21-4! These are F-U-N-D-A-M-E-N-T-A-L-S!

Photo Credit:

It’s certainly tougher to teach defense than it is to teach offense and any coach will tell you that is the case, but not only was Maccabi killed on the glass, they were outplayed for the most part against a team that was playing their 4th game in 8 days that included a heated Eternal derby against their arch-rivals Partizan and a tough battle just two days earlier at home versus Real Madrid.

Maccabi came into the contest after a blowout win over Rishon Le’Zion on Sunday night and should have been ready to roll, fresher with the time to plan for such an opponent.

But instead, Avi Even’s crew showed nothing. Nada. Zip.

Scottie Wilbekin – Photo Credit: Red Star

Red Star came out flying like they were on the old Concorde jet taking a 24-10 lead after ten minutes and while Maccabi began to chip away and pulled to within 3-points, 42-39 at halftime they should have been primed for a big second half. But that as nowhere to be found as Red Star made sure to find that extra energy, the good ole reserve gasoline in the tank for a 13-0 run as the game headed into the final frame as they took the win and move to 13-15 with the Russian clubs and 11-12 without them.

Sure Maccabi is at .500 11-11 without the former Soviet Union teams and in 7th spot but with a 12-14 record in 13th place with them and any which way you slice it, that’s just not good enough.

Maccabi looked like the old Maccabi of a month ago under Ioannis Sfairopoulos where Iftach Ziv, Jake Cohen and Roman Sorkin did not move their butts off of the bench and collected splinters for the full 40 minutes while Oz Blayzer wasn’t even dressed.

Avi Even – Photo Credit:

How is it possible that Avi Even who had used the Israelis to his advantage the last few weeks plus Sorkin played arguably his best game of the season earlier in the week against Rishon and he benches them all?

Next up was Angelo Caloairo who played 22+ minutes and scored zero points. How many times has it been said that you can’t have a player on the court that gives you so little or in essence nothing on the offensive end and in fact took only 1(!) shot all game long. Keenan Evans played under 7 minutes after committing 4 fouls which took him out of the game swiftly, Jalen Reynolds in 10 minutes was once again ineffective and Khyri Thomas scored a grand total of 2 points on 3 shots in 17+ minutes. YIKES!

Sure, Scottie Wilbekin, James Nunnally and Derrick Williams scored a combined 51 points but they took the majority of shots.

While the trio above could use some help that is the coaches job to make sure that the offense is spread amongst the players and that more players actually are used who could help out offensively.

Nate Wolters – Photo Credit:

On the other side of the floor, Dejan Radonjic played 11 of his players and saw 9 of them score at least 5 points in a well rounded attack (Maccabi had only 5 players with 5 points plus) with no player scoring more than 15 points which Nikola Kalinic so surgically did. Add to the fact that former Yellow & Blue guard Nate Wolters once again made sure to make his ex pay with 12 points in the win and you have a solid victory in front of not only Zufer Avdija who returned back to his home and was feted as a hero but also super star tennis player Novak Djokovic.

Maccabi will have to lick its wounds against struggling Hapoel Beer Sheva down in the southern capital on Sunday night in a game that they actually lost last year when Caleb Agada went off for 43 points in a 93-79 win. That shouldn’t be the case this year which Beer Sheva struggling to win and to score but the Yellow & Blue will need to show up to win because if they come in complacent they just won’t and will make their lives that much more difficult.

Next up in Euroleague action is a double week at home against Milano and Real Madrid in what could determine their continental future. There’s not much left of the season and should they be prepared and playa s they did in Serbia it will end very, very soon.

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