Maccabi Tel Aviv 311 Nir Keidar.
(photo credit: Nir Keidar/File)
Maccabi Tel Aviv squandered a golden opportunity to take a significant step towards the Euroleague quarterfinals on Wednesday night, losing 63-56 to Efes Pilsen in Istanbul.
After impressive home victories over Real Madrid and Pilsen, Maccabi regressed to its poor continental play of the start of the season on Thursday and fell to a mediocre Efes team in a game it could, and should, have won.
Maccabi scored just seven of 29 from three-point range at the Abdi Ipekci Sports Hall, but while a poor shooting night is excusable, there is no justification to being outrebounded 46-36, with Pilsen taking some 15 offensive boards.
“We wasted a superb opportunity to win here,” Maccabi coach Pini Gershon said. “We were in the game, but we missed too many good shots in the fourth quarter and turned over too many balls.”
The silver lining to Wednesday’s defeat is that Maccabi at least claimed the head-to-head tiebreaker over Pilsen thanks to its 10-point victory at Nokia Arena two weeks ago.
Maccabi hosts Montepaschi Siena next Thursday
and will be aiming for a five-point win to erase the defeat in Italy in its Group F opener.
“We need to focus on next week and if we win by five points or more we will likely finish second in the group and advance,” Gershon said.
David Bluthenthal was Maccabi’s only player to reach double-figures on Wednesday, scoring 15 points. Alan Anderson, who entered the encounter averaging 23 points per game in the Top 16, was held to just seven points, hitting three of 11 shots. Chuck Eidson and Andrew Wisniewski disappointed yet again, combining for seven points and two of 10 from the field.
Mario Kasun dominated under the baskets for Pilsen, scoring 14 points and taking 13 rebounds.
Charles Smith added 11 points for the hosts, who were also horrendous from beyond the arc, scoring only five of 25 attempts.
Maccabi looked completely lost at the start of the
game and the hosts raced to an early lead. Tel Aviv missed its first seven field-goal attempts and a Kasun dunk gave Pilsen a 9-0 margin after four minutes.
Maccabi found its range as the game progressed, but trailed 21-14 at the end of the first quarter after an Anderson basket.
A Bootsy Thornton three-pointer extended Pilsen’s gap to 24-16, but Maccabi answered back with a 14-2 run, led by subs Doron Perkins and Raviv Limonad.
Perkins’s basket midway through the second period gave the visitors their first lead of the night (26-24) and Limonad’s steal and lay-up opened a 30-26 advantage.
However, the momentum shifted in Pilsen’s favor in the final three minutes of the half, with the Turks ending the frame with a 9-0 run to take a 35-30 lead into the break.
Nerves seemed to take their toll on both teams at the start of the second half, but Tel Aviv somehow managed to put together a 7-0 run, with a Perkins three tying the score at 37-37.
Pilsen took a three-point gap into the fourth quarter (47-44) and
Daniel Santiago’s dunk gave the hosts a 51-44 advantage two minutes
into the period.
A Bluthenthal triple brought Maccabi back within one possession
(51-48), but Kerem Tunceri’s three with five minutes remaining opened a
six-point margin once more (54-48).
An Anderson three followed by a D’or Fischer jumper cut the gap to a
single point (54-53), but Tel Aviv could not complete the comeback and
missed an opportunity it may well rue in two weeks time.