Maccabi Tel Aviv’s Jeremy Pargo.
(photo credit: UDI ZITIAT/BSL)
Maccabi Tel Aviv will have to make Euroleague history to book a return ticket to the Final Four after dropping to a 2-0 deficit in the best-of-five quarterfinal series against Fenerbahce Ulker Istanbul on Thursday night, suffering a humbling 82-67 defeat in Game 2 in Turkey.
While in Game 1 Maccabi controlled proceedings for much of the contest, it never got a foot in the door on Thursday.
Fenerbahce outscored Maccabi 30-14 in the first period and never looked back, maintaining a double- digit gap for the remainder of the night and cruising to a 2-0 lead before the series moves to Tel Aviv.
Since the quarterfinals became a best-of-five affair in the 2008/09 season, no team has ever managed to come back from a 2-0 deficit.
In order to be the first to do so, Maccabi will need to win Games 3 and 4 at Yad Eliyahu Arena on Monday and Wednesday before returning to Istanbul for a decisive Game 5 the following week on April 28.
However, Maccabi can’t afford to start thinking about Game 5 any time soon, with its most pressing goal being to avoid a sweep next Monday.
The yellow-and-blue will have to register a significant improvement on Thursday’s dismal display after being outclassed and outfought by the Turks.
Maccabi coach Guy Goodes wanted his team to limit Fenerbahce to 70 points in Game 2, but the hosts already had 50 points in the first half, steamrolling the Israeli champion to establish a 16-point margin (50-34) which Tel Aviv never threatened to erase.
Maccabi was helpless on defense, with Fenerbahce hitting 18-of-30 shots in the first half, including 6-of-12 three-point attempts.
Jeremy Pargo was Maccabi’s leading scorer for a second straight game, finishing with 16 points. However, star forward Devin Smith didn’t show up yet again, scoring just seven points.
Andrew Goudelock had 19 points for Fenerbahce, 17 of them in the first half.
“I’m angry because we didn’t implement anything we talked about,” said Goodes after his team’s poor showing. “When you don’t defend properly you get clobbered. Everything fell apart at the start and none of the players did their job.”
Nevertheless, Goodes believes the series is far from over.
“The series hasn’t even begun,” he exclaimed. “We will enter Game 3 with renewed energy and everyone will play properly.”
Maccabi had controlled the start of Game 1, scoring 11 of the first 13 points of the night and maintaining the momentum until halfway through the third period.
However, Fenerbahce was determined to stamp its authority on Game 2 from the first whistle, hitting the ground running to open a quick 9-2 lead.
A Nikos Zisis three-pointer made it a 16-point game (27-11) with 1:30 minutes left in the first period, with the Greek guard hitting another triple to maintain the gap ahead of the second quarter.
A Pargo trey brought Maccabi within 10 points (33-23), but that was as close as the yellow-andblue would come, leaving the side in a hole which no other Euroleague team has ever managed to climb out of.
Elsewhere, Hapoel Jerusalem registered its 11th BSL victory from the past 12 games on Thursday, thrashing Maccabi Rishon Lezion 104-89 at the Jerusalem Arena.
Hapoel improved to 21-7 after opening a double-digit gap (55- 45) by the break and extending it to as many as 28 points in the third period.
Bar Timor led seven Jerusalem players in double figures with 22 points, while Dominique Johnson had 23 points for Rishon, which fell to 15-13 after having its three-game winning streak snapped.