Maccabi Tel Aviv center Alex Tyus (right) looks on helplessly as Zalgiris Kaunas big man Aaron White (center) dunks for two of his eight points during a 99-84 defeat in Lithuania..
(photo credit: UDI ZITIAT)
Maccabi Tel Aviv’s hopes of combining three straight Euroleague wins for the first time this season were dashed in humbling fashion in Lithuania on Thursday night.
After defeating Red Star Belgrade at Yad Eliyahu Arena and then claiming its first continental road win in more than two months at Olimpia Milano last Friday, Maccabi knew it could take a significant step towards securing a playoff berth with a victory in Kaunas in a game that marked the start of the final third of the regular season.
A win would have seen the yellow-and-blue move tied in the standings with Zalgiris in sixth place, and at the very least ensured it maintained a twogame gap in the battle for a topeight finish.
But following the 99-84 setback in Kaunas, Maccabi could find itself just a single game ahead of Baskonia Vitoria in ninth place should the Spaniards defeat Red Star Belgrade on Friday.
Michael Roll led five Maccabi players in double figures with 17 points. Art Parakhouski added 14 points, with Jonah Bolden, Pierre Jackson and Deshaun Thomas scoring 12 points each.
Maccabi shot just 5-of-20 from three-point range (25 percent), while Zalgiris connected on 14-of-23 attempts from beyond the arc (60.9%).
Paulius Jankunas led five Kaunas players in double figures with 17 points.
Zalgiris, guided by coach Sarunas Jasikevicius, who led Maccabi to Euroleague crowns as a player in 2004 and 2005, improved to 13-8.
Maccabi fell to an 11-10 record after trailing almost from start to finish. Tel Aviv led 4-2 for about 20 seconds early in the first quarter before Axel Toupane netted a three-pointer for Zalgiris that ended up giving the hosts the lead for good.
Kaunas took its gap to 14 points (37-23), but the yellow-andblue closed to within striking distance by the break, trailing by seven points at the interval (53-46) despite missing all eight of its three-point attempts.
Zalgiris, on the other hand, connected on 9-of-13 shots from beyond the arc, and three more consecutive triples would prove to be crucial in the third quarter after Maccabi had cut the deficit to a single point (55-54). Those threes were part of a 21-6 run which gave Kaunas a 16-point margin (76-60) and essentially decided the contest. Maccabi would come no closer than 11 points in the final 10 minutes and will have to quickly turn its focus to next Thursday’s crucial home game against Barcelona.
Following the Barca game, Tel Aviv will play on the road in five of its final eight regular season games. Barcelona beat Maccabi 89-67 when they met in Spain at the end of November.
That marked the start of a five-game losing streak on the road. Maccabi lost at Barcelona, CSKA Moscow, Panathinaikos, Real Madrid and Olympiacos by an aver-age 18.4 points per contest, and after seemingly getting back on track in Milano, was outplayed away from home yet again in Kaunas.