Maccabi Tel Aviv humbled in Eilat

Yellow-and-blue falls to third defeat of the season, being outplayed in Israel’s southernmost city.

January 10, 2017 06:26
2 minute read.
Maccabi Tel Aviv coach Ainars Bagatskis (left) looked lost for ideas following last night’s 94-86 BS

Maccabi Tel Aviv coach Ainars Bagatskis (left) looked lost for ideas following last night’s 94-86 BSL defeat at Hapoel Eilat.. (photo credit: UDI ZITIAT)

There is still no end in sight to Maccabi Tel Aviv’s struggles, with the yellow-and-blue suffering yet another dejecting defeat on Monday night, this time at Hapoel Eilat.

Maccabi was hoping to build some momentum on the back of the 93-92 win over Darussafaka last Thursday which snapped a six-game losing streak in the Euroleague. But another dismal defensive showing saw it drop to a 94-86 defeat to Eilat and fall to 10-3 in the BSL.

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Maccabi had a one-point edge (37-36) after a tight first half, but Eilat moved ahead in the third quarter, taking a five-point lead into the final 10 minutes (65-60). The hosts remained in front throughout the fourth period, opening a 14-point gap (80-66) with a 12-2 run which Maccabi never threatened to erase.

Landon Milbourne had 32 points for Eilat, which improved to 6-7. Gal Mekel scored 23 points for Maccabi, which committed 19 turnovers.

“We were focused all week and we knew we had a chance to get a win tonight,” said Milbourne.

“We came with a lot of energy and a lot of focus.

Defense was the key. We had a plan on defense and we stuck with it and it worked.”

Maccabi visits Real Madrid in Euroleague action on Friday, and after just two weeks at the helm, head coach Ainars Bagatskis already looks lost for ideas.

“The problem is that I can’t find the right words to touch the players,” said Bagatskis.

“Basketball starts from respect and aggressiveness. We showed that in the last two minutes and I don’t know why we don’t play like that from the start. If we continue like this none of us will be able to find high level teams for next season.”

The Latvian didn’t sound like he believed the team had any chance of winning in Madrid.

“If we have 19 turnovers against this team and against this kind of defense, we are dreaming if we think we can beat Real Madrid,” he said.

“The players listen to the words and they want to win. But in some moments we want to win in separate ways and don’t want to be together. We always have excuses, but I think that in professional sports there are no excuses.”

Maccabi captain Guy Pnini said some of the team’s players didn’t prepare for the game the way they should have.

“I don’t think that if we were playing in the Euroleague tonight we would play like this and that is unacceptable,” he said. “Everyone wants to win, but we need to emphasize the importance of local play.

We can’t come to a game like this and allow 94 points. It has nothing to do with ability and is all about our attitude. Every player needs to look himself in the mirror.”

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