By Amy Samin
Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv’s 2010 – 2011 Euroleague season opened less auspiciously than they had hoped, with a 94 – 78 defeat to Caja Laboral in Spain.
The bright spots in the game were a solid fourth quarter and Chuck Eidson, who scored 14 points, pulled down 7 rebounds and made 8 assists, garnering him 30 index points in the Euroleague ranking and placing him at the top of the heap.
In another Group A game Thursday night, Zalgiris defeated Partizan mt:s Belgrade by a score of 73 – 62.
Starting for Maccabi were Doron Perkins, Lior Eliyahu, Guy Pnini, Richard Hendrix and Jeremy Pargo.
Caja opened strong and took a quick lead before Hendrix scored off an assist from Perkins to put Maccabi on the board, 6 – 2 after two minutes of play.
The Spaniards were hot, scoring mostly from outside the arc, while in the main Maccabi’s shots refused to drop.
A 14 – 0 scoring run for Caja Laboral was stopped with points from team co-captain Tal Burstein from the foul line and by David Blu with a putback, 26 - 9 to Caja with less than two minutes in the period.
Yaniv Green also scored, and after one quarter the score stood at 31 – 11.
Caja Laboral continued to play well in the second quarter, while Sofoklis Schortsanitis provided a bright spot for Maccabi, scoring seven points in the first five minutes which, together with a basket by Perkins, set the score at 41 – 23.
The home team continued to dominate and Maccabi continued to struggle on both offense and defense.
The half ended with the score 57 – 32.
The Spaniards protected their comfortable lead in the third quarter as well, though Maccabi’s defense succeeded in slowing them down.
Halfway through the period the score was 64 – 39.
Eidson and Green supplied some points in the paint, and Chuck added a three from the left wing, but at the end of the period Maccabi trailed by twenty-seven, 76 – 49.
Maccabi completely dominated the first half of the final quarter, going on a 13 – 0 scoring run that included points by Green, Hendrix, Pnini and in particular Burstein; with five minutes elapsed Maccabi had narrowed the deficit to fourteen, 76 – 62.
Maccabi continued to play well, thanks in large part to the efforts of Eidson at the point guard position.
But in the end, there wasn’t enough time left in the game for Maccabi to make a complete comeback, and the game ended in a victory for Caja Laboral over Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv, 94 – 78.
Maccabi: Chuck Eidson 14 points, 7 rebounds, 8 assists; Sofo Schortsanitis and Richard Hendrix 9 points each; David Blu and Tal Burstein 8 points each; Doron Perkins, Guy Pnini and Yaniv Green 7 points each; Jeremy Pargo 5 points; Lior Eliyahu 4 points.
Caja Laboral: David Logan 25 points; Mirza Teletovic 16 points; Martin Rancik 12 points; Brad Oleson and Stanko Barac 11 points each;
Fernando San Emeterio 10 points; Marcelinho Huertas 5 points; Pau Ribas 4 points.
“I could give all sorts of reasons and excuses, but there’s no point,” said Maccabi head coach David Blatt after the loss. “We didn’t put in an appearance in the first half.
We hadn’t yet played against a team that is so strong on offense.
We had a problem with the pick and roll and guarding against shooters; we fixed that after the break but it was too late.”
“In the fourth quarter, we didn’t just fight, we played,” said the coach in reference to the way his players narrowed the gap, “but today’s performance was unacceptable.
I have no complaints with the guys; it could be we just played against a team that is better than we are.
If in the future we find a way to strengthen the team, maybe we’ll do it, but we won’t use that as an excuse.
We’ve prepared and played well over the last three weeks, but we hadn’t yet met an opponent of this caliber.
Vitoria deserved to win today and I offer my congratulations.”
David Blu: “There’s not a lot to say.
It’s hard to explain such an awful start to the Euroleague games.
We didn’t get into the game, and basically it’s fair to say we didn’t really start playing until the fourth quarter.
By then it was too late, especially against a team like Vitoria, who played a great game on their home court.
We need to figure out how to fix what happened tonight.”
Yaniv Green: “They started really strong and opened up a big lead from the beginning.
In the second half we fought for every basket and every position, and we were able to close the gap somewhat, but it was too late because they were leading by more than twenty points.
It’s a shame, but it’s only the first game and we still have plenty of time to fix and learn from our mistakes.”
The center, who scored seven points, added: “They’re not that much better than we are, but they play well on their home court.
They had an almost perfect game in the first half and it almost seemed like cannon fire.
In the second half we wanted to fight and show that we were a better team and we succeeded in cutting down their lead.
That was the only bright spot in this game. At home in Nokia Arena it will be a completely different story.”