Maccabi Tel Aviv forward Brian Randle was one of his team’s better players last night, but he couldn’t help the yellow-and-blue avoid a 88-82 defeat to CSKA Moscow at Yad Eliyahu Arena..
(photo credit: ADI AVISHAI)
Maccabi Tel Aviv’s hopes of qualifying for the Euroleague Top 16 are hanging by a thread after it fell to 1-5 in the regular season on Thursday night with a 88-82 defeat to CSKA Moscow at Yad Eliyahu Arena.
Maccabi lacked nothing in desire and determination in Zan Tabak’s first game at the helm following the Croatian’s appointment earlier this week in place of the fired Guy Goodes.
However, while the yellow-and-blue managed to force a close game for three quarters against a team considered to be among the best in the competition, it failed to complete the job in the fourth frame and is on the verge of missing out on the Top 16 for the first time ever.
Making matters even more complicated for Maccabi is the fact that three of its final four group games are on the road, including against two teams that have already won at Yad Eliyahu this season.
Maccabi visits Unicaja Malaga next week, with the Spaniards entering Friday’s game against Brose Baskets Bamberg with a perfect 5-0 record.
Tabak can draw several positives from Thursday’s game, but he may well not have the time required to fully turn things around at Maccabi before the end of the regular season next month.
Tel Aviv dropped to its second-heaviest defeat in Europe since 1991 in its regular season opener against CSKA in Russia, losing 100-69.
Thursday’s defeat was far more respectable, but does the yellow-and-blue little good in the standings, with only the top four in the group to progress to the next round.
Brian Randle had 19 points on Thursday, with Taylor Rochestie scoring 18.
Milos Teodosic scored 25 points for CSKA, which improved to 5-1.
It was clear from the start that motivation would not be an issue for Maccabi players on Thursday, something which was especially apparent on the defensive end.
Tel Aviv held the competition’s top offensive team to just four points in the first five minutes, but couldn’t capitalize, also scoring just four points. CSKA connected on just 1-of-10 field-goal attempts to start the game and Maccabi’s gap reached eight points (18-10) after Rochestie’s basket.
Nando De Colo’s three-pointer to end the frame cut the margin to five points, but Tabak could have hardly asked for a better quarter from his players, with Maccabi registering three steals in the quarter after averaging a competition low 3.6 until Thursday.
Moscow continued to eat away at the gap at the start of the second quarter and Milos Teodosic’s triple midway through the period gave the visitors their first lead of the night (28-26). The Serbian guard hit two more threes before the end of the period, ultimately scoring half of his side’s points in the first half.
However, the rest of CSKA went 6-of-24 from the field and Maccabi was within just a single point (38-37) at the interval. It didn’t take the hosts long to take the lead in the third frame, with Randle’s basket making it a five-point game (49-44). The momentum would continue to shift from side to side, with CSKA going on a 10-0 surge to take a 60-53 advantage.
Tel Aviv was in danger of losing touch, but Ike Ofoegbu’s triple followed by Sylven Landesberg free throws brought Maccabi back within a single possession (60-58) and Rochestie’s basket moved the hosts back in front (63-62) with 1:12 minutes to play in the third quarter.
Nevertheless, it was Moscow which had the edge (65-63) entering the final 10 minutes and it wouldn’t be long before the visitors built a significant lead. CSKA scored the first eight points of the fourth frame to open the first double-digit gap of the night (73-63) and Maccabi capitulated yet again in what has become characteristic fashion this season.