“We didn’t give up and continued to fight” But the fight may be coming to an end for Maccabi Tel Aviv and Sfairopoulos

Dec 14, 2021 | Holyland Hoops

“We didn’t give up and continued to fight. We want to fight hard for the win”Ioannis Sfairopoulos

“We were still fighting hard. We got to take that fight and head into Thursday with the same fight”Keenan Evans

Hate to break it to Coach Ioannis Sfairopoulos, the players and management, but the fight is over.

It’s time to stop using the same lame lines over and over and over again. They are empty statements at this point.

There was no fight and don’t let the final frame fool you when Maccabi Tel Aviv came somewhat alive, the game had already been decided. There was barely any fight for three quarters and there needs to be some serious changes in order to save the 2021/22 Euroleague season before it’s too late after falling to Fenerbahce 90-79.

Ante Zizic – Photo Credit: Euroleague

Maccabi Tel Aviv have to take a good long look in the mirror right here and right now and see that this is just not it. They are not playing good basketball. They are in the midst of a five game losing streak with a roster that has oodles and oodles of talent but it just isn’t working. Nothing is working and when that is the case, changes have to be made and that begins up top because you can’t fire all of the players.

There are some players that need to be jettisoned starting with James Nunnally despite scoring 18 points, with the majority coming in a garage time filled 4th quarter that saw Maccabi get to within 5 points. Nunnally took the ball and just went to the hoop while also picking up an irresponsible technical foul as well. There were no set plays or basketball plays, it was just take the rock and go.

Nunnally, who was at the center of attention this week after being thrown out of practice following a verbal engagement with Iftach Ziv along with looking for a move to China which was confirmed by Sports Rabbi sources in that country, denied the stories all over Twitter despite his coach confirming that a fight did happen at practice at the pre-game press conference along with not denying that the forward is looking to leave. Instead of put up a fight on the court, perhaps Nunnally needed to focus on the task at hand before fourth quarter garbage time. In fact, in the first half when Nunnally was on the court, Scottie Wilbekin did not pass him the ball once and he just stood around doing absolutely nothing.

Derrick Williams also did not look like the player we saw a couple of months ago as he looked lost at times over the opening 30 minutes and Kameron Taylor who played 18 minutes after not playing in the league and only featuring for a minute and change against Kazan is just not fit at this time to play in the Euroleague.

Kameron Taylor – Photo Credit: Euroleague

Meanwhile as Sfairopoulos tightened up his rotation the odd men out as usual were the Israelis with Oz Blazer playing only 3:51 while captain John Dibartolomeo and Jake Cohen collected splinters on the bench. Blayzer, who has been arguably been Maccabi’s best player came into the game at the end of the first half was given barely any chance to make an impact on the game, while Roman Sorkin, whom Maccabi needed to get special permission from the Euroleague to wear a wrap around his left thumb and dressed instead of Ziv didn’t see the hardwood at all.

Maccabi with a proper game plan and by using the full strength of their squad should have been able to beat an 8 man Fenerbahce but Sfairopoulos decided to only feature 8 players as well and really didn’t have much of a plan. After having overplayed his squad in Saturday night’s Israeli league game with Scottie Wilbekin chalking up 33 minutes, Evans playing 28 minutes, Derrick Williams with 24 minutes and Ante Zizic putting in 31 minutes, it was as if he cut off his nose to spite his face to just eke out a domestic league win. Sfairopoulos just relied on the fight, more fight and even more fight to see if that would be enough to win the game. Which it was not.

As of now it’s game over until Maccabi can begin making some serious moves to salvage the campaign before it’s too late.

The only person who didn’t use the word fight in their post game comments was Scottie Wilbekin who looked at what the reality of the club’s situation really is, “We have to do a better job of sticking together and not collapsing. We need to play with 100% focus the whole game. We can do it for stretches but not for the whole game.”

Keenan Evans – Photo Credit: Euroleague

And that is what the ultimate problem is. The players can’t focus the entire game on the task at hand and that is ultimately the coach’s fault. He has not been able to get through to the players and has lost them. The sloppy play, the focus, falling apart.

Whatever he is saying or doing is just going in one ear and right out the other and management needs to see this.

If the message is not getting to its intended target, then it’s time to find someone who can.

Time is beginning to become of the essence as Maccabi dropped under .500 to 7-8 with 19 games to go. That sounds like a lot of games but they will be down to 18 games by Thursday at 11pm.

Sports are a results driven business and if you can’t win, well, you’ve got to go. There is no try to win, or fighting better than last game. You either win or lose in the sport of basketball.

A team needs to be 100000% focused on every possession in order to make sure that they do what they need to in order to win.

Dyshwan Pierre – Photo Credit: Euroleague

The name of the game is winning and right now Maccabi and Ioannis Sfairopoulos are unfortunately not doing that. When a team doesn’t win it becomes harder and harder to sell tickets, harder to sell out the arena, sell merchandise and the result is that revenues begin to plummet. After losses incurred due to COVID-19, Maccabi can’t afford to lose that money and management also has to consider that issue as well.

After Sfairopoulos erred in speaking out about the intelligence level of the fans after a frustrating loss at home against Kazan last week, that signalled the beginning of the end as you just can’t go out against those who support you day in and day out.

All of a sudden the supporters begin to see through the empty statements, fight until the end, we will continue to fight and we want to fight hard. They don’t hold any water. They are just excuses and a way to try to cover up reality while attempting to sway public opinion.

The fight may be heading towards the final stages and the end game as changes may be on the horizon. Thursday’s game at home against Anadolu EFES who just destroyed Baskonia 87-72 are looking to even up their record at 8-8 as they continue to move northwards in the standings as Ergin Ataman will have his troops ready to go as they as they smell blood. Last season they walloped Maccabi at Yad Eliyahu 90-66 at a point in the season where the campaign was already lost. Right now there is still time for Maccabi to save the season and the EFES game may be Sfairopoulos’s last stand as he tries to pull his team out of a massive, massive hole. However, there is no indication that Sfairopoulos will be able to do just that as the losing streak is just one game away from the six losses in a row that they incurred in 2018/19.

When things aren’t going right everything is magnified 100 times over and that is the case right now and Sfairopoulos is right under that microscope with his future and the team’s hanging in the balance over the next 36 hours. A lot more will be known by late Thursday night.

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