Maccabi vs NBA 298.88.
(photo credit: AP)
Maccabi Tel Aviv's miserable preseason continued on Tuesday night in North America where the team was hammered 93-67 by the Cleveland Cavaliers.
The loss was Tel Aviv's fourth straight in preseason play and comes only six days before it officially begins its season in a State Cup game against Elitzur Ashkelon. It is important to note, however, that three of Maccabi's recent defeats came against superior NBA clubs which play at a level Tel Aviv will not face again this season.
Maccabi will play its last preseason game on Thursday night in Canada against the Toronto Raptors. The focus of Thursday's game will be on ex-Maccabi star Anthony Parker, who joined the Raptors during the summer. The 31-year-old American, who led Tel Aviv to three Euroleague championships, will face his former teammates for the first time in what promises to be an emotional meeting.
Maccabi hung with the Cavs for a quarter-and-a-half on Tuesday, but then fell behind quickly and never managed to peg back its opponent in front of a near-capacity crowd of 20,000 at "The Q," Cleveland's Quicken Loans Arena.
"We can't play like this, it's a disgrace. We can never go out there and play like that," a clearly despondent Maccabi guard Will Bynum said after the game. "I don't know if it was the jet lag, but this is about the worst that we have played.
"It was just one of those nights. We don't play this way. This was not Maccabi basketball. We've just got to wash it away and forget it and move on to the next game against Toronto."
Tel Aviv coach Neven Spahija was also dejected about his team's result. "I know Cleveland is much stronger than Maccabi Tel Aviv and still I don't like this result," he said after the game. "We deserve - with our quality - a better result, but at this moment we are not able to play like a team."
The Cavaliers' Drew Gooden led all scorers with 21 points. Donyell Marshall added 19 points and 10 rebounds for Cleveland, while Lebron James contributed 13 points, eight rebounds and eight assists.
"I think they could be a good team. They do a great job of moving without the ball. Their big men can shoot and pass," James said about Maccabi after the game. "They keep working together and they will be OK. I knew they were a pretty good team.
"I don't change my play against any opponent. I play the same kind of basketball. I play well on the defensive end. I play well on the offensive end."
Maccabi was led by three of its new players. Rodney Buford had 19 points, while Bynum scored 13 points and Simas Jasaitis added 10. The team's newest recruit, Noel Felix, made his debut for Maccabi, but failed to contribute in his limited minutes off the bench.
Tel Aviv began the game well and even led 22-21 in the first quarter thanks to a Buford three-pointer. Cleveland ended the first period with a small 26-22 lead, but soon after went on a 23-9 run that would effectively end any chance Tel Aviv had of winning.
The margin continued to grow