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Lo Kochot – Not in the same league: CSKA dismantles Maccabi

Maccabi Tel Aviv fell to CSKA Moscow 93-73 at Yad Eliyahu on Euroleague Gameday 24 as the Yellow & Blue who moved to 12-12 in the standings were dismantled by the Russian powerhouse who solidified their first place record at 19-5. With the score 33-25 in favor of the visitors, Sergio Rodriguez was hit with a technical after arguing a questionable offensive foul which helped CSKA to a 19-11 run to end the half with a 52-36 lead and essentially the game.

Nando de Colo dropped 19 points shooting 8/11 while adding 4 assists Cory Higgins scored 16 points and Will Clyburn added 10 points and 6 rebounds in the win. Norris Cole scored 13 points, Jonah Bolden helped put with 12 points and 6 rebounds while Alex Tyus added 10 points in the defeat.

1) At halftime, one of the veteran Israeli journalists came over to me and asked if there was a translation for the Hebrew words, “Lo Kochot” which literally means “No Forces”. The best translation I could come up with is “Not in the same league” and that’s exactly what we saw last night in the game between Maccabi Tel Aviv and CSKA. The two teams are just not in the same league, period. Yellow & Blue Head Coach Neven Spahija used the analogy of not being on the same planet after the game and that’s certainly the case as well. CSKA just played with Maccabi, plain and simple. de Colo, Rodriguez, Clyburn, Hines, Cory Higgins, Leo Wetermann and on and on and on did what they pleased on the parquet and played superb exciting and fun Basketball which Maccabi had no answer for. The Maccabi guards, Cole, Pierre Jackson, Michael Roll, DeAndre Kane and John DiBartolomeo combined to go 13/45 (29%) and committed 10 of the team’s 16 rebounds and that’s not going to win very many games. Moscow swarmed Maccabi and kept them totally out of their game and concentrated on making sure the Yellow & Blue couldn’t run.

2) When I spoke to Kyle Hines before the game he spoke about what the CSKA game plan was going to be, “They are a very strong offensive team with very talented guards who like to take the ball in transition. We need to slow the game down and play a more half court. We’ll also need to control the glass and rebounds. They are very talented offensive team so we can’t allow them multiple opportunities to score.”
* Take care of the talented guards who like to take the ball in their transition? CHECK.
* Slow down the game and play more half court? CHECK.
* Control the glass and rebounds? CHECK.
* Don’t allow multiple opportunities to score? CHECK.

In fact, while talking to Rodriguez, Clyburn and Hines after the game, they all said that they had focused all week on just making sure they could lockdown Maccabi. And lockdown they did. Coach Dimitris Itoudis is a master conductor and he knew very well how to control the game. Gur Shelef, the TV commentator for the game said that Itoudis knows the Maccabi plays better than the Maccabi players themselves and sometimes it certainly felt that indeed was the case. Watch the exclusive Kyle Hines Interview below:

3) Watching CSKA in some cases is like watching an NBA team in action. Moscow could have taken out most NBA teams ranked south of 20 on any given day and that should be no surprise when they have so many talented players, some of which played of course in “The best league in the world”. The Russian team runs so smoothly and part of that of course is due to the fact that many of the players have been together for a number of years as Hines told me yesterday. John DiBartolomeo also commented about that following the contest, “They have been playing together for a long time and know how to take advantage of opportunities.” Check out what Sergio Rodriguez said to The Sports Rabbi in the CSKA lockerroom following the game:

Victor Rudd returned to Yad Eliyahu after spending last season in Yellow & Blue. Did he get a welcome? Actually not really. It’s as if last season didn’t exist and history was wiped out. No flowers, no warm words, nothing, nada. zip. zero. I’m not sure if that was the right way to go, but regardless, look at who had the last laugh. Rudd finished the night with 4 points and 3 rebounds in 14 minutes of play. I had the chance to speak to the former Yellow & Blue guard, forward and center as he played them all last season. Was he super excited to defeat Maccabi? Let’s find out:

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