Taking a step forward to get a big road win: Jake Cohen & Maccabi Tel Aviv look for victory in Baskonia

Feb 1, 2024 | Holyland Hoops

Maccabi Tel Aviv will look to get back into the win column when they play at Baskonia on Thursday (21:30 Israel time) after having fallen to Real Madrid 106-101in dramatic fashion on Tuesday. The yellow-and-blue currently sit in 8th place sporting a 13-11 record while the Spanish squad are 12-12 in 11th place as the middle of the standings are extremely packed up as any win or loss will move a team up or down a number of spots.

While Head Coach Oded Katash’s team had no issue scoring against Real Madrid, they certainly had plenty of issues defending a very fast paced Los Blancos squad that may not have had all of their regulars but have so much depth that Chus Mateo has plenty of backup when needed. Real came into the game without the likes of Walter Tavares and Sergio Llull, but have no fear, Vincent Poirier, Dzanan Musa and Mario Hezonja had no problem filling the gaps. One weapon after the next Mateo was able to roll out as Maccabi had no answer stopping the hosts or even slowing them down.

Oded Katash – Photo credit: Dragan Stjepanovic

“It’s never going to be easy, a team with a lot of weapons and defensively we could do better but it’s not easy,” Katash said after the game. “They know how to punish you on every small mistake. On the defensive side we weren’t 100% concentrated but at the end we only lost the first quarter. We came back 3-4 times and we showed character. We can take a lot of good things from this game and we have a tough schedule coming up while the players play a lot of minutes but it was also a learning experience.”

Bonzie Colson who scored 25 points, looked to move on to the next game while also recognizing some of the positives from the Real game, “It was a very tough loss, but we fought until the end which shows the character of this group as there are a lot of things too be proud of even though we lost. We’ve gotta move along to Thursday and do what we can to get the win.”

“We didn’t come out on top for the game,” James Webb who scored 18 points and seems to have gotten into the rhythm of late. “But I think we played extremely hard until the end. We started slow in the first quarter, they got out of a little bit of a lead and the next three quarters we pick it up energy wise and effort wise defensively. Offensively we made some tough shots and we played close until the end.”

James Webb – Photo credit: Dov Halickman

While it is true that the yellow-and-blue only lost the first quarter, that was the frame that set the tone for the game and ultimately cost Maccabi at the end of the day. Moral victories are good to have and yes, Katash’s team did an admirable job against one of the best clubs in the business who are in first place with a 21-3 record, way ahead of Barcelona who are in second. However, it’s still a loss at the end of the day and Maccabi will need to wait yet another year (unless the two meet in the playoffs) to break a streak of 14 straight years that the Israeli team has not won in Madrid.

On the other hand, looking at the situation that Maccabi has been in this year having to play their home games in Belgrade without fans due to the war, it’s quite amazing that they are still two games over .500.

“We can’t take these things for granted,” Katash explained as to how the yellow-and-blue are able to compete despite all of the odds that have been piled up against them. “We were lucky to get some continuation from last year and we were able to keep the core of the team which kept us competitive. We have character, we are not playing at home, without our crowd. Big respect to management as to how they have handled the situation. We have found ways despite not having home court, we can’t look more than 3-4 days ahead. We postponed some of our Israeli games from the start of the season. But the key is our continuation and character.”

Markus Howard – Photo Credit: Dov Halickman

With their sights set on Dusko Ivanovic’s Baskonia squad, Maccabi will have to contend with the likes of Markus Howard, new recruit Jordan Theodore as well as Chima Moneke and Codi Miller-McIntyre just to name a few.

“It’s going to be a tough game in Baskonia they are a good team,” Jake Cohen said. “I think we have a really good chance to respond as we had some really good moments against Real but we need to take another step forward to get a big road win.”

As Katash always says, anything can happen in a double week and this will be the back end of yet another one, the third over the course of a month, but he also knows what the ultimate goal is.
“We were close and I felt that we could have won the game but we needed a more complete game in order to beat Real. We have a long trip ahead to Baskonia and it will be a challenge. We need to forget about the Real game and on Thursday it’s an entirely different game with a totally different pace and abilities and I hope that we can come back with a win.”

Sign up for our newsletter


You may also like…


Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates. 

You have Successfully Subscribed!