Euroleague Basketball: Maccabi ends European play with loss to Barca

Beaten 74-90 in Barcelona; coach Pini Gershon: "We hoped to finish the Top 16 with a win, but they were better today as well. We did our best, but it wasn't enough."

pini gershon 248.88 (photo credit: Channel 10)
pini gershon 248.88
(photo credit: Channel 10)
Maccabi Tel Aviv's disappointing Euroleague campaign ended in another defeat to a Spanish team when it was easily beaten 90-74 by Barcelona in the final game of the Top 16 round at the Nokia Arena in Tel Aviv on Thursday evening. Following the game, Tel Aviv's veteran captain Derrick Sharp could not hide his concern about the side's European flop. "This season was a disappointment, but I'm talking only about the Euroleague season because we still have a big target ahead of us in the Israeli League," he said. "We didn't want to finish the season like this, but that's life. Barcelona is a great team and I wish them all the best in the future." Maccabi had already been eliminated from continental play last week when Barca defeated Real Madrid, ensuring it could not finish in the top two spots of Group F and advance to the quarterfinal stage even though the Israeli side overcame Alba Berlin in Germany. On Thursday Tel Aviv led by three points after the first quarter (22-19), but then fell behind going into the half time break with the scores at 45-39 to Barcelona. Motivated by the knowledge that a victory would give them home court advantage in the quarters, the Spaniards pushed on in the second half, outscoring the hosts 21-16 in the third quarter and eventually winning by 16 points. Carlos Arroyo and Marcus Brown both scored 16 points for Maccabi while Barcelona's Gianluca Basile led all scorers with 23 points. Maccabi coach Pini Gershon admitted his team was second best on the night. "The teams that qualified from this group were better than us. We hoped to finish the Top 16 with a win, but they were better today as well. We did our best, but it wasn't enough. When I came here, the target was to reach the Top 16 and we made it, but this year almost every team that reached the next level played better than us," Gershon said. Barcelona coach Xavier Pascual was delighted with the result. "The last time Barcelona won here was many years ago, so this win means a lot to the club," he said. "We didn't play well the whole 40 minutes, but we found the way to get this important win. Maccabi played zone and pressured on full court and that gave us some trouble in some points, but we found the way to overcome and finish first in the group." Tel Aviv, which lost the Israeli championship to Hapoel Holon last year for the first time since 1993, must now focus on the local league, ssbeginning with a home game against Ironi Ashkelon on Sunday night.