Maccabi Tel Aviv looks to salvage pride, Euroleague season
The team will need center Sofoklis Schortsanitis at his best to have any chance of tying its Euroleague quarterfinal series against Panathinaikos at 1-1 on Thursday night.
SOFOKLIS SCHORTSANITIS of Maccabi Tel Aviv Photo: Adi Avishai
Perhaps more than anything else, it will be Maccabi Tel Aviv’s pride which will
be on the line when it faces Panathinaikos in Athens on Thursday night looking
to tie the Euroleague best-of-five quarterfinal series at 1-1.
was thoroughly outplayed by the Greeks in Game 1 on Tuesday, with Panathinaikos
effectively clinching the 93-73 win with seven minutes to play in the first half
thanks to a 22-0 run.
There was no coming back for Maccabi after it
entered the break down by 21 points (55-34), with Pao leading by as many as 34
at one stage (73-39) in the third period before taking its foot off the
The 55 points allowed by Tel Aviv in the first half was the most it
has conceded in any half since Caja Laboral Vitoria scored 57 on its way to a
94-78 thrashing of the yellow-and-blue in October 2010.
a massive 13 turnovers in the first 20 minutes on Tuesday, equal to its
40-minute average throughout the season, while Panathinaikos dished out 16
assists, one more than its full game average.
There is nothing positive
Maccabi can take from Tuesday’s encounter, but it could try and draw some
encouragement from a quarterfinal series also played in Athens last
Olympiacos thrashed Siena by 48 points in Game 1, but fell by 17
points 48 hours later and went on to lose the series 3-1.
“You don’t have
to be a rocket scientist to understand that we will struggle to come back from a
2-0 deficit in the series,” Blatt said on Wednesday. “We really want to return
to Israel at 1-1.
“We have made some adjustments and have come to some
conclusions which should help us in Game 2.
“Tuesday’s defeat is still in
everyone’s heads and hearts and that is a good thing.”
While the entire
team was dysfunctional in Game 1, Blatt will be especially worried with the
display of his big men.
After an excellent Top 16 in which he averaged
13.0 points, 8.2 rebounds and 2.0 blocks, Richard Hendrix was held to just six
points on Tuesday, with all of them coming in second half garbage
David Blu also went scoreless in the first half, while Sofoklis
Schortsanitis contributed two points in the first 20 minutes and ended the game
with zero rebounds.
Sofo has gone on the record as saying that he would
like to remain with Maccabi next season, but after following up a poor Top 16
(6.0 ppg and 2.8 rpg) with another dismal performance on Tuesday, his future
with the yellowand- blue seems to be in real jeopardy.
“We played a good
game, thanks to the concentration and the desire we had,” Panathinaikos coach
Zeljko Obradovic said.
“We have to forget what happened tonight and
prepare another game from scratch.
“Maccabi has a lot of pride and they
will try to react.”
In the BSL, Maccabi Ashdod continued its hot run on
Wednesday, beating BC Habika’a 83-72 for its seventh win in eight
Ashdod seized control of the encounter, which was twice postponed
due to rocket fire from Gaza, with a 12-2 run to start the second half
Josh Duncan, Dror Hagag and Robby Bostain each scored 14 points
for Ashdod, while Paul Delaney had 18 points for Habika’a, which has lost six of
Hapoel Gilboa/Galil returned to winning ways with an 81-60 win at
Ironi Ashkelon in another game postponed from last week.
Romeo Travis had
19 points for Gilboa, which led throughout the game, with Tony Skinn scoring 16