Pini Gershon in action 248.88 ap.
(photo credit: AP [file])
Maccabi Tel Aviv faces an uphill battle to reach the Euroleague quarterfinals after Thursday's 98-79 loss at Real Madrid.
Maccabi will need to win its three remaining games by significant margins or hope other results go its way to advance to the last eight, and coach Pini Gershon was quick to admit that the disappointing defeat in Spain leaves his team with its back against the wall.
"The next game in Tel Aviv [against Real] is a do-or-die one for us. It is very difficult, but we will try to win the game and get the tie-break advantage," Gershon said.
"We were in the game for three quarters, but Madrid scored three three-pointers and we committed two mistakes that sealed the outcome. Madrid deserved to win this game. We did not perform well on defense, allowing too many easy shots. The real margin in this game should have been eight points."
Maccabi, which hosts Real in its next Euroleague game next Thursday, led 20-18 after 10 minutes, but Madrid seized control of the encounter by outscoring the visitors 24-16 in the second quarter and continued to extend its lead in the second half.
"It was a very complicated game for us. We played well until the third quarter, but then we lost control," said Maccabi guard Carlos Arroyo, who led the team with 21 points and added five assists.
"We are now facing an uncomfortable situation in this group, but we still have some key games to play. We lost by a large margin and that is very important.
"We respect Real a lot, but we hope to have our chance in Tel Aviv."
Lior Eliyahu and D'or Fischer were Maccabi's only other players to score in double-figures, contributing 20 and 12 points respectively.
Louis Bullock led five Madrid players in doubles-figures, scoring 24 points.
"We managed to beat a great team that we were looking forward to beating since last season," said Bullock, who was part of the Real team, which missed out on the Euroleague quarterfinals last year after suffering a home defeat to Maccabi.
"We still have a lot of work to do, especially after what happened last season. A 3-0 record doesn't mean anything. We can't say anything until we play all six games."
Maccabi forward Omri Casspi confessed that the team's chances of progressing were significantly diminished by Thursday's loss.
"We played poorly, but we must learn from this and play better at home," Casspi said on Friday. "It will now be very difficult for us to advance to the quarterfinals."
In other basketball news, Adi Azulai resigned as coach of Ironi Ashkelon on Saturday, after the club's management told him that it can't afford to strengthen the roster.
Ashkelon has lost five of its last six BSL games, the latest an 85-76 defeat at Hapoel Holon on Thursday.
Azulai's assistant Avner Yaor, who guided Hapoel Afula/Gilboa last season, will take his place on the sideline.