No Way Home: Maccabi’s Euroleague campaign at point of no return as D-Day has arrived

Dec 16, 2021 | Holyland Hoops

Maccabi Tel Aviv welcome Anadolu EFES to Yad Eliyahu on Thursday night (21:05) on Euroleague Gameday 16. The Yellow & Blue are coming off their 5th loss in a row, a defeat 90-79 at Fenerbahce in Turkey which dropped their record to a game under .500 at 7-8. Ergin Ataman’s squad enters the contest with the identical record an actually leapfrogged Ioannis Sfairopoulos’s team in the standings into 10th place after downing Baskonia 87-72.

There is no question that this game will be a make it or break clash for Maccabi with no turning back. A loss would make it 6 in a row after a 5 game winning streak and the Yellow & Blue would basically be a sitting duck, or perhaps even a lame duck with no hope in sight and the season sliding away. A win gives Maccabi a bit of breathing room and the chance to see if they can build off of the victory with Zenit St. Petersburg and Monaco road games on the horizon. 

But there is quite a fine line between winning or losing with potentially all kinds of possible results coming in each one of those options. However, there is just so much more that Maccabi can take should they record yet another defeat.

Keenan Evans: Photo credit- Dov Halickman

To Keenan Evans who spoke again to the media (I’ve lost count how many times the guard has been rolled out) the season is still young with a long way to go, “Still early in the season and just like we won five in a row, we lost five in a row. We can go on a 7 game winning streak tomorrow. We can’t get our heads down. It’s been a tough 5 game skid but it can happen. We are still trying to put everything together, it’s still early in a long season and we need to patch it together as soon as possible.”

Angelo Caloiaro also referenced that there is plenty of games to go in the campaign, “I think we are one slot out and it’s not even halfway through the season. We know we are capable of it and we have to figure stuff out and get clicking again.”

But the reality is that the season is just about halfway through. As each week goes by another 1-2 games get crossed off of the schedule and are gone for good. A loos, can’t be replaced by a win. Once you put up an L it goes onto your record in the standings and it doesn’t matter if you win or lose games now, or at the start or the end of the season. A loss, is a loss, is a loss no matter how you slice it. 

Neven Spahija – Photo Credit: Dov Halickman

Just ask Coach Neven Spahija during the 2017/18 season when he got through the first half with a 8-7 record. The second half was an abysmal 5-10 for an overall season 13-17 record on the year that included a 5-game losing streak to finish off the campaign. 


Maccabi is heading into the point of no return and while the players may claim that they are unaware that changes could be possible either to the composition of the squad or the coaching staff, the fact of the matter is they really should take note and if they haven’t felt the heat of the five game losing streak then they perhaps are in the wrong business, one that is results driven.

“I don’t think too much about that (changes),” Evans noted. That’s a big reason why I stay away from media type stuff. We are just focused on trying to get this win tomorrow because we can just control what we can control which is to show up every day to practice and showing up for the games.”

Angelo Caloiaro – Photo Credit: Dov Halickman

Angelo Caloiaro shared his teammates thoughts, “I haven’t even thought about it and as players all we can worry about is the next game. We have to focus today on EFES and if we beat EFES then people will be talking differently. Now they are .500 again and back in the 8th spot. Maybe if we win another one. We have put streaks together before and it just takes one of those streaks and everything changes. It’s a long season.”

Ioannis Sfairopoulos went in search of fan support in his pregame statements while also understanding that the sand is quickly heading the wrong direction in the time glass.

“The most important thing now is to react. With all the respect to EFES which are the Euroleague champions and they have quality, now the most important thing is our team. To be concentrated, with the right attitude on the court and to fight hard for the win.”

Ioannis Sfairopoulos – Photo Credit: Dov Halickman

“We are playing on our home court, we want our fans to support us and we want all of us to give maximum to come back to wins. I’m a fighter and I will fight until the end, that is my job and what I love to do. If they say about changes it’s not my decision.“

If Maccabi comes away with less than anything than a victory you can bet your bottom dollar that there will be changes. What will be those changes at this point is still under debate. The heat is on everyone right now, from the players to the coaching staff to the management and if they want Maccabi to have a successful Euroleague season, this is it. 

D-Day has arrived.

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