Maccabi Tel Aviv suffers first Euroleague defeat

October 25, 2017 01:10

After two straight wins to begin campaign, yellow-and-blue loses nail-biter at home to Olympiacos.

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Maccabi Tel Aviv suffers first Euroleague defeat

While other players have players have grabbed the headlines, Maccabi Tel Aviv forward Michael Roll has also played a crucial role in the yellow-and-blue’s 2-0 start in the Euroleague, averaging a team-high 32 minutes per game entering tonight’s clash with Olympiacos.. (photo credit:ADI AVISHAI)

Maccabi Tel Aviv was centimeters away from extending its perfect start to the Euroleague campaign on Tuesday night.

However, Norris Cole’s shot went out off the rim at the buzzer and Olympiacos triumphed 69-68 after a tight encounter at Yad Eliyahu Arena.

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There was little to separate the teams throughout the night, but Olympiacos took a six-point lead (51-45) into the final 10 minutes and never squandered it, holding off Maccabi in the closing minutes.

Maccabi entered the game after opening a Euroleague campaign with two straight wins for the first time since 2012.

After claiming the pre-season Winner Cup earlier this month, Maccabi had gotten the season off to a perfect start, improving to 2-0 in the Euroleague with last Thursday’s 74-68 win over Baskonia Vitoria and moving to 3-0 in the BSL with a 74-72 triumph at Hapoel Gilboa/Galil on Saturday.

Maccabi was facing its toughest test of the season to date against Olympiacos, and while it will be disappointed with the loss at Yad Eliyahu, it can quickly turn its focus to its next game at one of the competition’s strongest home teams, Red Star Belgrade, on Thursday.

Norris Cole led Maccabi once more on Tuesday, finishing with 22 points and seven rebounds. Pierre Jackson was the team’s only other player in double figures, scoring 14 points for the yellow-and-blue, which shot just 3-of-15 from three-point range.

Georgios Printezis had 21 points for Olympiacos, which improved to 3-0.

“We wanted to win the game and we fought to win the game but we came up short,” said Maccabi forward Michael Roll, who had seven points.

“There are a lot of things we could do better, like rebounding and being more physical. Hopefully we can improve on this. We are now facing a very tough game in Belgrade, but that is great for us that we can get right to it and already prepare for them.”

Red Star beat Spanish powerhouse Barcelona in its first Euroleague game of the season at the Aleksandar Nikolic Hall last Friday. The Serbians dropped to 1-2 on Tuesday following a 65-58 loss at Khimki Moscow.

Maccabi’s players were quickly reminded on Tuesday that they were facing an opponent of far greater quality than they had until this stage of the season. The hosts had just four points after five minutes, allowing Olympiacos to open an early eight-point gap (12-4).

Despite leading Maccabi to the win over Baskonia Vitoria last week with 24 points and five assists, Cole started Tuesday’s game on the bench. His entrance with four minutes to play in the first quarter injected some much-needed energy into Maccabi’s offense, with the two-time NBA champion leading the hosts on a 9-0 run to take the lead (13-12).

The score was tied at 18-18 entering the second quarter and any hope Maccabi may have had of surging ahead after Cole opened the period with four straight points was quickly dashed by the tough Greeks.

Olympiacos took a two-point edge (35-33) into the second half and led by as many as eight points (51-43) thanks to an 8-0 run. But a Cole basket to end the third frame kept Maccabi within striking distance (51-45).

A tight final 10 minutes would ensue, with a Cole three-pointer bringing the hosts within a single point (69-68) with 31 seconds to play.

Olympiacos couldn’t score in its final possession, but left little time on the clock for Maccabi, with Cole’s rushed shot going out off the rim at the buzzer to the dejection of the local fans.

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