Crushed Maccabi looks ahead to next year

Quarterfinal sweep by Fenerbahce, punctuated by overtime clincher in Tel Aviv, leaves yellow-and-blue forlorn.

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April 22, 2015 01:44
2 minute read.
Monday

Maccabi Tel Aviv’s Euroleague season ended in painful fashion on Monday. (photo credit: ADI AVISHAI)

 
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You could have heard a pin drop in the Maccabi Tel Aviv dressing room following Monday night’s defeat to Fenerbahce Ulker Istanbul, which completed a 3-0 sweep in the Euroleague quarterfinals.

The deafening silence of dejection seemed to drown out every other sound in the belly of Yad Eliyahu Arena, with Maccabi players each dealing with the disappointment in their own personal manner.

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An inconsolable Jeremy Pargo, who missed chances to win the game for the yellow-and-blue at the end of regulation and overtime, held his head in his hands, while Devin Smith sat slumped in his chair, staring at thin air.

With no team ever erasing a 0-2 deficit in a best-of-five quarterfinals series, Maccabi players knew their chances of returning to the Final Four weren’t great.

However, they expected to win at least one game in the series, and the way in which Monday’s 75-74 overtime defeat unfolded, left them bitterly frustrated.

“Now we have to just focus on the Israeli league,” said Smith, who registered just 8.3 points per game in the series, well below his season average of 15.0 points.

“Down the stretch they made the plays and we didn’t.”



While Maccabi still has two more months of games to play in the BSL as it looks to win a 52nd local league championship, the yellow-and-blue is well into its preparations for next season.

After handing Smith a lucrative three-year contract extension two weeks ago, Maccabi signed Sylven Landesberg to a new three-season deal on Tuesday. The 25-year-old, who has played for Maccabi for the past three seasons, has averaged 8.5 points and 2.5 rebounds in 18 minutes per game in the Euroleague this season and is crucial to the team’s future plans due to his Israeli citizenship.

Israeli guard Yogev Ohayon is also on the verge of extending his deal and together with Smith, Landesberg, Guy Pnini, Brian Randle, Jake Cohen and 17-year-old Croatian phenom Dragan Bender, who are all under contract for 2015/16, Maccabi already knows the identity of most of its 12 senior players for next season.

Maccabi is also likely to use its option to retain the services of Jeremy Pargo and hopes to re-sign Alex Tyus, although he may well leave for a lucrative deal in Europe.

The disappointing Marquez Haynes and swingman Nate Linhart are set to depart, while Joe Alexander will also leave unless he manages to receive Israeli citizenship due to his Jewish roots.

Greek center Sofoklis Schortsanitis remains popular with the fans, but his contribution on court has not justified his expensive contract and he’s expected to move on.

Despite Guy Goodes’s failure to lead the defending champion back to the Final Four, the head coach will be back for another season, with the ownership and the first-year Maccabi coach both claiming the team would have needed to overachieve to go any further than the last eight.

“I’m proud of the way we played, but we couldn’t complete the job and we have to move on,” Goodes said. “In order to reach the Final Four we would have needed to get at least 150 percent out of this roster. We did the best we could with what we had.”

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