Maccabi Tel Aviv coach David Blatt urged his players to quickly forget about Friday night’s humbling 35-point thrashing at CSKA Moscow, the yellow-andblue’s largest defeat in European competition in 38 years.
Despite playing without Devin Smith and Alex Tyus, as well as Shawn James, who could be out until the end of the season, Maccabi remained within striking distance of CSKA at halftime, trailing by seven points (47-40).
However, Tel Aviv completely capitulated in the second half, being outscored 53-25 on the way to a 100-65 defeat, the third heaviest in the club’s history and the biggest since it was trounced by 47 points by Real Madrid in January 1976.
“Clearly this is a very difficult and unpleasant day for all of us,” said Blatt, whose team allowed 18 unanswered points to end the game. “We were competitive for one half, but in the second half the facts overcame our will. We didn’t have the big men we needed against such a tall and powerful team and didn’t have the rotation we required to keep up with their pace.”
Joe Ingles had 13 points for Maccabi, while Milos Teodosic led six CSKA players in double figures with 22 points.
The humiliating loss is a significant blow to Maccabi’s hopes of securing home-court advantage in the quarterfinal playoffs by finishing among the top two in Euroleague Top 16 Group F. However, at 5-2, the yellow-and-blue remains in third place and still holds a twogame lead over Galatasaray, Lokomotiv Kuban and Bayern Munich in the battle for a topfour finish and qualification for the quarters.
Maccabi hosts Galatasaray in its next Euroleague encounter on Thursday, but will first aim to take care of BSL business when it welcomes Hapoel Jerusalem to Nokia Arena in a mouthwatering showdown on Monday.
“We need to put the game against CSKA behind us,” said Blatt, who is expected to have Smith and Tyus back at his disposal on Monday. “We must remember that we were enjoying an excellent period until this game, winning 22 of 23 contests. We had a bad game and that can happen.”
In Sunday’s BSL action, Ironi Ness Ziona (10-9) hosts Maccabi Ashdod (3-16), Maccabi Haifa (13-6) visits Hapoel Gilboa/Galil (8-11), Hapoel Holon (9-10) welcomes Bnei Herzliya (6-13) and Hapoel Tel Aviv (11-8) faces Barak Netanya (7-12).
On Monday, Maccabi Rishon Lezion (6-13) hosts Hapoel Eilat (10-9).