Maccabi Tel Aviv guard Pierre Jackson (left) had 14 points in last night’s 89-78 defeat to James Augustine and Unicaja Malaga at Yad Eliyahu Arena.
(photo credit: ADI AVISHAI)
Maccabi Tel Aviv suffered a demoralizing 89-78 defeat to Unicaja Malaga at Yad Eliyahu Arena on Thursday night, squandering a 14-point firsthalf lead and losing an opportunity to strengthen its position in the Euroleague standings.
Maccabi dropped to an 8-7 record at the midway point of the regular season ahead of a visit to Real Madrid next week. The yellow-and-blue won’t be thinking about Real just yet, with Maccabi to face Hapoel Tel Aviv in the derby in the quarterfinals of the State Cup on Sunday and again in BSL action on Tuesday.
Tel Aviv entered Thursday on the back of its most impressive win of the season to date, proving that it can compete with the very best, at least at home, with an 82-73 victory over reigning Euroleague champion Fenerbahce last week.
However, it showed once more on Thursday that it is still a vulnerable team, even at Yad Eliyahu.
Norris Cole led Maccabi with 16 points, with Art Parakhouski adding 15. Pierre Jackson scored 14, while Nemanja Nedovic had 20 points for Malaga, which improved to 7-8 with its fourth straight victory.
After two road losses over five days at CSKA Moscow and Panathinaikos in its previous games on the continent, Maccabi faces another of the competition’s big guns in Madrid next week.
Real improved to 9-6 on Thursday with a 79-77 win over Fenerbahce.
Maccabi beat Real 90-83 when they met at Yad Eliyahu Arena earlier this season. Deshaun Thomas led five Maccabi players in double figures with 21 points in that game, but he will miss next week’s showdown after also sitting out Thursday’s defeat to Malaga with an injury that is expected to keep him out for three weeks.
After a tight first quarter ended in a three-point Maccabi lead (22-19), the yellow-and-blue opened the second frame with a 10-0 run to open a double- digit margin (32-19). Fringe players Jake Cohen, Karam Mashour and John DiBartolomeo all scored, with the latter’s steal and assist for Alex Tyus capping the run.
Malaga needed more than three minutes to score its first points of the quarter and the hosts would lead by as many as 14 points (36-22).
Maccabi couldn’t build on its momentum though, with the Spaniards closing to within six points and trailing by only eight points at the break (47-39).
It would take Malaga five second-half minutes to tie the score, with a Brooks basket making it 54-54. The yellowand- blue lost its way on offense and the visitors scored the final seven points of the period to take a threepoint edge (61-58) into the closing 10 minutes.
Maccabi got the fourth quarter off to the better start, regaining a threepoint advantage (69-66). The hosts couldn’t complete the job though, being held to just four points over a four-and-a-half minute stretch during which Malaga scored 12 points, with McCallum’s three-pointer with 1:52 minutes to play opening a seven-point gap (82-75) from which the yellow-and -blue couldn’t recover.