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(photo credit: AP)
Maccabi Tel Aviv was defeated on foreign soil again after another unimpressive and lackluster performance.
The yellow-and-blue lost to Cibona Zagreb 87-82 in a Euroleague Group B game on Thursday night, falling victim to a 22-point performance by Brindley Wright.
Lior Eliyahu used his leaping abilities to dunk the ball just seconds after tipoff, but Cibona retaliated with a strong 8-0 run.
Maccabi trailed by a point (20-19) at the end of the first quarter, thanks to substitute Jamie Arnold, who helped the team with strong defense in the paint.
However, Maccabi couldn't contain the hosts, who continued playing tough half-court defense and opted for percentage basketball on offense. Sharpshooter Chris Warren connected on numerous uncontested attempts, giving the hosts a promising 42-31 lead at halftime.
Cibona continued to punish Maccabi's hapless defense in the second half, as it seemed like every starter and substitute participated in an offensive onslaught.
Maccabi's Will Bynum failed to control the tempo of the game, which enabled Cibona to increase its lead to 18 points (69-51) entering the final period.
Maccabi coach Neven Spahija recognized that his team was being completely outplayed and introduced many of his key reserves for the final stages of the game.
Derrick Sharp and Yaniv Green stepped up the pace and spurred a brief Maccabi comeback which narrowed the Croatian club's lead to 79-72 on the way to the final score.
Eliyahu and Derrick Sharp scored 15 points each for Maccabi, while forward Nikola Vujcic, who is from Croatia, played only 22 minutes and finished with 12 points and five rebounds.
Arnold, who was a key factor in Maccabi's late comeback attempt, contributed 13 points.
In the other Group B game Thursday night, Panathinaikos remained undefeated with an 87-72 victory over Unicaja Malaga.
Panathinaikos is two games ahead of Maccabi Tel Aviv, Cibona and Partizan Belgrade in the group standings.
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