Legendary Maccabi Tel Aviv big man and executive Nikola Vujcic’s resignation overshadowed the club’s 86-79 loss to Barcelona as they handed the Yellow & Blue their first home defeat of the season to drop their record to 4-3.
Vujcic, who has spent nearly two decades with the club has won numerous titles including three Euroleague championships, two coming as a player and one as an executive as his contribution to Maccabi Tel Aviv has been incalculable.
Oded Katash’s squad were able to withstand an onslaught of Nicolas Laprovittola 3-pointers in the first half as Wade Baldwin and Lorenzo Brown kept Barcelona at bay leading 43-40 at halftime. However, the second half was all Saras Jasikevičius‘s team that saw Tomas Satoransky, Cory Higgins and Laprovittola as well as big man Mike Tobey dismantle Maccabi to take the win.
Brown paced Maccabi with 18 points, Baldwin added 16 points and Alex Poythress chipped in with 10 points in the loss. Laprovittola led all scorers with 19 points (6/12 3-pointers), Higgins added 15 points, Tobey chipped in 14 points and Alex Abrines scored 13 points in the win.
“We played against a very good team and they deserved that W,” Oded Katash said following the contest. “I really liked the way we approached this game and we had a very good first half. It’s never easy to play Barcelona. It’s always disappointing to lose but I liked the effort while we have a lot of things to improve.”
Sarunas Jasikevicius spoke about the game that was, “I think we defended better. We were a little bit tougher. We stopped the one-on-ones, I think we had just 6 points [allowed] from one-on-one situations. It’s a good win here.”
Wade Baldwin reflected on the defeat, “They outplayed us, they had some runs and we lost the game. They the refs were doing their job and Barca pulled out the win.”
Tomas Satoransky, the Barcelona star guard said, “I think we really improved our defense [in the second half]. Especially our one-on-one game. I think we were really solid in rebounding during the whole game. In offense, it gave us a lot of second chances to score and I think we got the confidence from there.”
Barcelona moved the back around to begin the game as Mike Tobey finished off the play with a dunk, Lorenzo Brown hot a long 2-pointer for Maccabi Tel Aviv, Nicolas Laprovittola nailed a corner 3-ball while Tomas Satoransky also went from deep to give the visitors a 8-4 lead midway through the first quarter. Tobey and Laprovittola both went from downtown, Brown and Jalen Adams responded with a deuce, John Dibartolomeo entered the game and knocked down a triple and Nikola Kalinic scored a 3-point play to keep Barcelona ahead 23-20 after ten minutes of play.
Dibartolomeo opened the second quarter from deep, Alex Abrines answered right back, Jarell Martin dunked, Brown fed Baldwin on the baseline for a basket, Bonzie Colson got the friendly bounce off the rim for a 3-pointer as Maccabi took the lead 30-28 with 6:18 left in the half. Sertac Sanli scored for Saras Jasikevičius‘s squad, Adams came back with a bucket, Brown and Vesely traded baskets, Laprovittola scored from beyond the arc yet again but Colson hit a triple at the halftime buzzer to keep Oded Katash’s team in front 43-40.
Josh Nebo and Adams scored while Satoransky and Kalinic with a poster found points for Barcelona to start off the third quarter, Laprovittola was left open in the corner and then the elbow and punished the Yellow & Blue yet again from deep to knot the score up at 50-50 midway through the frame. Vesely hit a jumper as the shot clock expired, Satoransky dialled up long distance, Austin Hollins scored an off balance 3-pointer, Baldwin followed up with one of his own but Cory Higgins and Abrines scored for Barcelona to give them a slim 62-61 lead.
Higgins went from deep to get the fourth quarter underway, Sanli scored in the paint and Tobey drilled home a 3-pointer as Barcelona increased their lead to 72-60 with 5:48 left in regulation time. Higgins nailed a triple, Nebo put in a 3-point play but Baldwin picked up a technical foil for his 5th and was sent to the showers as Satoransky and Tobey wrapped up the win for Barca.