Maccabi Tel Aviv’s Euroleague season ended in painful fashion on Monday.
(photo credit: ADI AVISHAI)
Maccabi Tel Aviv’s time as the Euroleague title-holder ended in heartbreaking fashion in its home arena on Monday night, with the yellow-and-blue suffering a 75-74 defeat to Fenerbahce Ulker Istanbul in Game 3 of the quarterfinals to lose the best-offive series 3-0.
Maccabi still believed it was capable of overturning a 0-2 deficit despite losing twice in Istanbul last week.
However, the yellow-and-blue couldn’t even win a single game against a superior opponent, although it came within centimeters of doing so on Monday, with Jeremy Pargo missing a chance to win the game at the end of regulation.
Pargo had another opportunity to give the team a memorable victory in the final seconds of overtime, but once more he failed to do so and Maccabi can only rue what might have been.
Pargo was Maccabi’s top scorer with 21 points, with Brian Randle adding 19 points and 10 rebounds.
Nikos Zisis had 19 points for Fenerbahce, with Andrew Goudelock finishing with 15 points.
Maccabi opened the night by showing the urgency and determination it so desperately lacked in Game 2, with two thunderous dunks by Brian Randle opening an early eightpoint gap (13-5). A Devin Smith three-pointer took the gap to a record nine-point margin (17-8).
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However, after scoring 17 points in just over seven minutes to start the night, Maccabi completely lost its way, managing a mere 14 points in the remainder of the first half.
A Nate Linhart three-pointer ensured Maccabi was still well placed after 10 minutes, reestablishing a seven-point cushion (20-13). However, the trend that characterized the closing minutes of the first quarter would continue in the second frame, with the hosts finding points hard to come by and Fenerbahce slowly but surely erasing the margin.
A Nemanja Bjelica triple capped a 10-2 run and completed the comeback (23-22) with 5:45 minutes to play in the first half and the visitors were ahead by six points (37-31) at the break after holding the hosts to 11 points in the second period.
A Jeremy Pargo three to open the second half got the crowd involved once more, but Nikos Zisis hit a trey at the other end to silence the arena and the Turks remained in front throughout the third quarter, taking a fivepoint cushion (50-45) into the final 10 minutes.
Maccabi held Fenerbahce to six points in the first five minutes of the fourth frame and Randle’s free throw midway through the quarter tied the score at 56-56.
There would be little to separate the teams for the remainder of the night, with Marquez Haynes free throws bringing the sides level once more with 1:19 left to play.
Joe Alexander’s put-back dunk off an offensive rebound with 33 seconds gave Maccabi its first lead of the second half (65-63), but the yellow-and-blue was fortunate not to find itself trailing when Jan Vesely failed to complete a three-point play from the line with 9.7 seconds remaining.
Pargo had a chance to give Maccabi the win in regulation, but his shot at the buzzer was short.
A Zisis three gave the visitors the initiative at the start of overtime, but Maccabi was back ahead after Pargo’s jumper (72- 71) and Randle’s free throws put Tel Aviv in front once again (73- 72) with 15.7 seconds remaining.
However, Goudelock scored at the other end with nine seconds to play and Fener celebrated after Pargo missed once more.
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