Maccabi Tel Aviv’s Sonny Weems (left).
(photo credit: ADI AVISHAI)
Hadar suffers first defeat as coach with yellow-and-blue outplayed at home by Barcelona Any illusion that Maccabi Tel Aviv’s problems were solved with the appointment of Rami Hadar were dashed on Wednesday night with a comprehensive 79-69 defeat at the hands of Barcelona at Yad Eliyahu Arena.
Maccabi had won three straight games since Hadar replaced Erez Edelstein last week, including two Euroleague contests to move to a 2-2 record. But it knew it would be facing a much tougher test against the Spanish powerhouse and trailed by as many as 20 points before making the final score-line slightly more respectable.
The shorthanded Barcelona was without injured scorers Juan Carlos Navarro and Justin Doellman, but got an excellent game from Tyrese Rice, who led all scorers with 21 points in his first game back in Tel Aviv since leading Maccabi to the Euroleague title in 2014.
“It was a great experience to be back in Tel Aviv, but this is a business and I want to win,” said Rice.
Andrew Goudelock scored 19 points for Maccabi, with Devin Smith adding 18.
Sonny Weems, D.J. Seeley, Victor Rudd, Gal Mekel and Guy Pnini combined for nine points.
Maccabi could have hardly asked for a better start on Thursday, opening the game with a 7-0 run in the first two minutes.
Barcelona entered the contest as the Euroleague’s top defense, allowing an average 70.5 points in its first four games, and it ended up limiting the hosts to 18 points in the first 10 minutes, taking a two-point edge (20-18) into the second quarter.
Maccabi scored nine of the first 10 points of the second period to move back ahead (27-21), but it was held to just four points over the next five minutes, with Barcelona going on a 17-4 to seize the initiative (38-31).
Barcelona took a six-point advantage (40-34) into the second half and opened a double-digit cushion for the first time with five straight points. Maccabi fought back, holding the visitors scoreless for almost five minutes to close within two points (45-43) with a 9-0 surge.
Barca’s defense would ensure the yellow-and- blue came no closer though, with Tel Aviv scoring just four more points in the third quarter.
Six straight points by Rice followed by a Joey Dorsey basket from an offensive rebound, one of seven he had in the game, reestablished a double-digit margin (58- 47) by the end of the third quarter and the Catalans clinched the win by the midway point of the final frame.
An 11-2 run in the first four minutes of the period took the gap to 20 points (69- 49), and despite cutting the deficit to six points (75-69) in the final minute, Maccabi never really came close to completing the comeback.