Maccabi Tel Aviv captain Guy Pnini.
(photo credit: ADI AVISHAI)
Even in a season which has already included numerous lows, Maccabi Tel Aviv dropped to its most humbling defeat of the campaign on Wednesday night, losing 85-70 to rock-bottom Brose Baskets Bamberg at Yad Eliyahu Arena.
Maccabi entered last week’s home game against Efes Istanbul brimming with confidence after claiming three consecutive continental victories. Two straight home losses have brought it back down to earth in painful fashion, with the 86-77 defeat to the Turks being followed by another unexpected setback against Bamberg.
The Germans had won only two of their first 10 games in the competition, but outplayed the yellow-and-blue, which fell to a 5-6 record with a fourth defeat from six home games.
Bamberg had lost five games in a row entering Thursday, but it controlled the contest at Yad Eliyahu from the start. Bamberg took a 16-point margin (46-30) into the interval and Maccabi would come no closer than eight points, suffering a defeat which raises serious questions regarding the direction in which the team is heading.
“We were once more lacking energy and determination,” said Maccabi coach Rami Hadar. “There is one person who is responsible for this lack of success and that is me. It is disappointing to drop two straight home games, but we didn’t play as well as our opponent yet again tonight and they deserved to win.”
Andrew Goudelock led Maccabi with 20 points, while Sonny Weems added 16 points. Maccabi scored just 16-of-38 shots from two-point range (42.1%) and 6-of- 20 from three (30%).
Bamberg went 21-of-36 (58.3%) from two and 13-of-27 (48.1%) from beyond the arc, with Nicolo Melli scoring six of those threes to finish with 27 points and 14 rebounds.
“We were feeling good after beating Olympiacos in Athens, but we have lost something along the way and we need to look into that,” added Hadar. “I don’t have any answers at the moment.”
Maccabi looked lost from the start, being held scoreless in the first four minutes to allow Bamberg to take a 7-0 lead. The hosts finally got off the mark thanks to Devin Smith’s three and another triple by the forward tied the score at 10-10. Tel Aviv soon took its first lead (14-12) following Goudelock’s free throws, only to be outscored 8-2 in the final 80 seconds of the quarter.
Bamberg built on the momentum with a 7-0 run to start the second period, giving the Germans a deserved double-digit cushion (27-16), which they increased until the break (46-30).
Bamberg’s lead reached 21 points in the third quarter (56-35), but Maccabi entered the final period with momentum on its side and trailing by just 10 points (62-52), going on a 13-2 run to get back into the game.
Goudelock’s basket to start the fourth frame cut the deficit to single digits (62- 54), but Bamberg never lost its cool, scoring nine of the next 11 points to reestablish a comfortable gap (71-56).
Tel Aviv closed back within nine points, but Bamberg remained in control until the final buzzer by which time the arena was half empty, with many of those still in attendance booing their team off the court.