Maccabi Tel Aviv will have to wait at least one more week before securing its
place in the Top 16 after suffering its first Euroleague defeat of the season on
Thursday night, losing 64-62 to Unicaja Malaga at Nokia Arena.
It may or
may not be related to the rocket siren that sounded in Tel Aviv three hours
before tip-off, but Maccabi players lacked focus and urgency for much of the
night and it was no surprise they dropped to the loss after committing six
turnovers and scoring just two field goals in the fourth quarter.
(5-1) could have clinched its place in the Top 16 with a win, but it will now
need to wait for next week’s visit to Montepaschi Siena to do so.
yellow-and-blue did at least hold on to the tiebreaker over Malaga (5-1) after
beating the Spaniards by five points on the road at the start of the
Shawn James had 14 points and nine rebounds for Maccabi, with
Ricky Hickman scoring 13 and Malcolm Thomas adding 11.
led Malaga with 12 points.
Tel Aviv held a 21-17 advantage after 10
minutes and Hickman free throws took the margin to seven points
However, Malaga came back to take a lead into the break (38- 37)
and at no stage in the third quarter were there more than three points
separating both teams, with Kosta Perovic’s buzzer-beater tying the score at 49-
49 ahead of the final frame.
Maccabi began the quarter with three
turnovers in four possessions, but four straight points by David Logan pulled
the sides level once more (59- 59) with 2:28 to play.
Maccabi and Malaga
traded the lead in the next two minutes and the visitors had a 64-62 advantage
with 23 seconds remaining.
Tel Aviv had two chances to send the game to
overtime, but both Devin Smith and Hickman were denied by the Malaga defense and
the hosts tasted defeat in the Euroleague for the first time in 2012/13.