Maccabi Tel Aviv returned to the win column with a come-from-behind 78-70 victory over AS Monaco at Yad Eliyahu. Here are a few of my reflections from the round 3 clash.
The Good: Roman Sorkin
After zero minutes against Žalgiris in round 1 and less than 15 minutes against Fenerbahçe in round 2, Roman Sorkin put on a show for the home crowd, coming off the bench for just under 19 minutes of play, during which he came close to a double-double. In an inspiring performance, Sorkin scored 10 points (5/9 shooting from the field), pulled down 9 rebounds, dished off 2 assists and grabbed a steal. He had a Performance Index Rating (PIR) of 18 for the game (behind only Monaco’s Jordan Loyd (30) and teammate Wade Baldwin IV (28)), and his effort was enormous – so much that the crowd jeered whenever he was taken off the court for a rest.
“For me personally, one of the key players was also Sorkin,” commented Monaco coach, Saša Obradović, after the game. “Apart from the guards, he played very aggressive on our perimeter line. We could not organize the game the way we want[ed]. Like I said, good from the paint, Sorkin was playing very good in this part.”
The Bad: First half shooting
Maccabi’s shooting woes were evident in the 20 minutes, scoring only 31 points (14 in the first quarter and 17 in the second quarter) to go into the main break down trailing by 11 points. The hosts scored at low percentages of 47% from 2 (10/21) and 20% from 3 (3/15), and nothing seemed to be falling for them.
It could have been a lot worse, as Loyd – who alone scored 12 points in the first quarter and added another 5 points in the second quarter – put Monaco up 42-23 with just over 2 minutes to go in the half, giving Monaco its largest lead of the game. However, a late run of 9 points to end the half saved Maccabi from a humiliating halftime ledger.
To the team’s credit, they came out after halftime and turned it around. Maccabi coach, Oded Katash, relayed to the press what he discussed with his team at half time, “We are much better than the score shows. Don’t worry, with misses – we took a lot of good shots, but we missed a lot of things. Simply stay focused, play the right way – that’s what we spoke about [at half time].” Of course, Maccabi came out looking like a different team after the break, with a very strong 47-28 second half performance.
The Ugly: First quarter turnovers
In Monday’s press conference, Katash spoke about how there was lack of concentration on a team level, and that was on display in the first quarter with a total of 6 turnovers. It looked like a case of poor communication, and with the groans from the stands, the home crowd felt like it was going to be a long night. However, Maccabi managed to regroup and only conceded 8 more turnovers for the remaining three quarters. Ultimately, Maccabi came away with the win, however one of the areas that Katash will focus on is how to get his players to start the game in the right fashion, as they will not be able to rely on comebacks like tonight every game.
Up Next: ASVEL Villeurbanne
Maccabi now prepares for another home game this Thursday night, when they will host ASVEL Villeurbanne, who will come to Tel Aviv with a 1-2 record after a disappointing 84-63 loss to Fenerbahçe in Istanbul. However, this does not mean that Maccabi will be taking a lax approach to the game. “There are no easy games. Also Villeurbanne, it’s a group that we know, and it won’t be any less difficult,” emphasized Katash.
“We need to come to the game with a different game plan [to tonight’s game]. The work on Monaco’s guards was critical, and we did much better work in the second half. But [Villeurbanne] is a completely different matchup, and it may be that you see completely different lineups on Thursday. But what we are expecting is that we want to continue exactly the way that we finished [tonight] – with the same fight, the same commitment, and the same atmosphere to be here on Thursday.”