Recap of Hapoel Tel Aviv's 80:95 victory at Zdevita Ljubljana in Eurocup/Sport1
Maccabi Tel Aviv arrived in Bologna last night (Friday) with the feeling that it can win if it registers a very good game. After the 100:90 loss, the club feels that offensively they were worth winning, but defensively they were not oriented and therefore leave Italy with a great sense of missing out.
For two and a half quarters, Maccabi held Bologna very close, and even led at certain stages, with both teams exchanging baskets and not exactly doing a good job defensively. Bologna was the first to run away midway through the third quarter, taking the lead and not dropping it despite a comeback attempt by the Yellows. Lorenzo Brown, in his best game of the season, scored 26 points, pulled down 6 rebounds and delivered 5 assists. Wade Baldwin scored 20, Bonzi Coulson added 10 and Josh Nivo had a solid game with 7 points and 9 rebounds, but none of that was enough to beat one of the best teams in the factory this season.
"Bologna played very well. I feel bad because of this loss, we did a good job offensively, but we need to be more committed defensively," Oded Katsch said at the press conference, "We can't win games here against a team like Bologna and get 100 points. They scored about 50 points in every half, that's too much. We need to be more committed defensively. We have to make a decision about where we want to take this season. We're in a tough situation, but we're good enough to win games like this, especially on offensive nights like this. We can lose, but we can't get 100 points, we have to be consistent with the game plan."
Anthony Cleveland added: "We had a tough loss tonight. We need to be better defensively. It's hard to win games when you allow 100 points. We need to get back to business in the next game and defend, be better on the defensive side and then things will work out. We need to find the right energy on the defensive side for 40 minutes as a team. I'm looking forward to the next game to get back on track." Bonzi Coulson concluded: "It was a tough game for us. They played very well from the start of the game, we had our backs against the wall. We didn't play our basketball, and it cost us a loss. We need to play better."
The defense is disturbing. Ketch/official website, Djordje Kostic
From the first minute of the game it was clear that the Bologna game would be Lorenzo Brown's big night. The 33-year-old guard recorded his third-best game in points and index since arriving at the club last season and showed that even at his age he can produce a great game, playing 28 minutes in a close game in France just two days earlier.
Aside from Brown, Wade Baldwin also had a solid game. Although numerically he was less dominant than his backline mate's play, Baldwin knew how to give Brown the stage, their cooperation was very good and they held Maccabi for many minutes.
So where was the problem? "There was a feeling that no player other than Wade and Lorenzo was going up," the club said. Roman Sorkin was the only other guard besides the two guards to score more than three field baskets, and he did so mostly in the first half. Bonzi Coulson once again got lost in his mediocre game, and when the two superstars don't get enough help from the complementary team, it's hard to come away with a win at such a home venue.
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Impressed, but didn't get enough help. Brown/official website, from Maccabi Tel Aviv's official website
"It was the hottest game we've had in terms of basketball and atmosphere since the series against Monaco," said one Maccabi staff member late in the game from Bologna. This week's away games were Maccabi's fourth and fifth of the season, and the first since October 31, when the mind was still far from focused on basketball and the games in more home venues, such as Athens or Valencia, had crowd restrictions that created some alienation.
The feeling of the Maccabi people, as expressed by Oded Katsch at the press conference, was that the team was unable to produce reasonable defensive games against the top teams of the Euroleague. This is the eighth time the Yellows have conceded more than 90 points since the beginning of the season, and Maccabi knows that with such protection they simply will not reach their goals.
Maccabi's streak of home games, which continues next week against Anadolu Efes, will determine that the Yellows will finish the first round of the Euroleague with ten home games, instead of seven originally after a three-game swap, and that in the second round they will have only seven home games. Given the Yellows' less impressive away record in recent years, there is no doubt that the Yellows will need to show a completely different ability to reach the playoffs.
Another top team beat Maccabi Tel Aviv. Cordinha/official website, Virtus Segafredo Bologna
A look at the Euroleague standings after the 13th round reveals a very worrying picture for Oded Katsch's players. Maccabi Tel Aviv is ranked ninth, in the same variety as teams ranked 6-10. The Yellows met seven of the eight teams above them, beating only Partizan Belgrade at the Menorah Arena in early October.
Real Madrid, Barcelona and Olympiacos have already beaten the Yellows at home in Belgrade, Monaco have beaten them in France, and Valencia and Bologna have beaten them away as well. Maccabi will meet Basconia in just under two weeks. "We haven't won against a top team yet, or a team with impressive momentum," the club admitted before the game, hoping it would come against Bologna. In practice, the difference from third place is only two games, but to do so, the Yellows will have to start winning big games as well.
And now for the league, but with a partial squad. Coulson & Nivo/official website, Michele Nucci
According to the plans, Maccabi Tel Aviv is supposed to arrive in Milan today and from there split for the return to the Premier League. Over the past week there have been quite a few discussions about who and how many foreigners will return with Maccabi to the game against Bnei Herzliya on Monday, and according to the plans between three and four foreigners are supposed to return with the team, but the fact that James Webb, who was supposed to return with the team to Israel, fell ill and did not play last night, may change the plans.
Those not expected to return with Maccabi this week are Lorenzo Brown, Bonzi Coulson and Wade Baldwin, with the rest of the foreigners in the plans to return. The top trio is expected to arrive at the games later this month, with the division being made according to the needs of the game load and the desire to give rest on the one hand, and get players into shape through the league.
John DiBartolomeo, who missed the last few games due to a groin injury, is also doubtful for Monday's game, and it is very possible that at least one of the two young players of the Yellows who are on a double card at Elitzur Shomron, Roy Bachar and Shahar Doron, will be called up to the squad to back him up.
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