By Amy Samin
Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv lost on Thursday night in
Omri Casspi played well for Maccabi with 16 points.
In place of Carlos Arroyo, Tal Burstein and Dror Hagag got the job of moving the ball.
Nikola Vujcic played well for the Greeks, scoring 14 points; Yotam Halperin scored 2.
Next week is a bye week in the Euroleague, and on Thursday Maccabi will play against Hapoel Jerusalem at Malha – the game that was delayed from earlier this month. The next Euroleague game will be in two weeks, at Nokia Arena against
Head coach Efy Birenboim put Tre Simmons in at the starting position in the place of the injured Carlos Arroyo.
With him were Omri Casspi, D’or Fischer, Tal Burstein and Marcus Brown.
The starting five for Olympiacos were Milos Teodosic, Giorgos Printezis, Yotam Halperin, Sofoklis Schortsanitis, and Josh Childress.
Maccabi opened well in the first quarter and gained an early lead off two baskets by Simmons, with the score at 6 – 2 two and half minutes into the game.
The hosts were taken by surprise by the Maccabi offense, and by the zone defense Maccabi used, but they soon recovered.
Baskets by Halperin and Childress gave Olympiacos a 9 – 8 lead, after five minutes of play.
The balance of the game quickly swung back the other way, with Maccabi stopping the Greek’s offense, and drawing three fouls from their huge center, Schortsanitis.
A three-pointer by Brown gave Maccabi a 13 – 9 lead.
Excellent playing by Maccabi, including tight defense, took Maccabi on an 8 – 0 scoring run and set the score at 23 – 13 with a minute and a half remaining in the quarter.
Ioannis Bourousis and Theo Papaloukas shrank that lead to 24 – 17 and the end of a great first quarter for Maccabi.
In the second quarter, Maccabi wasn’t able to maintain the flow of the game they had established in the previous period, got hung up on defense, and went scoreless for several long minutes.
Olympiacos head coach Panagiotis Giannakis’ players saw their chance and closed the gap to 24 – 22 three and a half minutes into the second quarter.
The absence of leadership at the point guard position for Maccabi was more and more noticeable as the quarter went on, enabling the host team to tie the game at 26 with four minutes left in the half.
Maccabi looked like a shadow of the team from the first quarter, with a string of missed shots and turnovers on nearly every possession.
Luckily, Olympiacos – who could have wreaked serious damage on Maccabi at that point – failed to take advantage of their opponent’s weakness.
Maccabi finished the quarter with only 5 points, and with the score 34 – 29 to Olympiacos.
Olympiacos continued to extend their lead at the start of the second half, and even a smooth three-pointer by Simmons didn’t help Maccabi, as the Greeks took the score to 43 – 32 three minutes into the third quarter.
It’s not clear where the skill Maccabi demonstrated in the first quarter went, but the third quarter turned into a demonstration of missed shots for the Israelis, while Olympiacos dominated.
A three-pointer by Panagiotis Vasilopoulos took the score to 50 – 32, as the hosts, especially Vujcic (who played his most effective game of the season to date) kept pouring in the baskets.
Almost single-handedly, Casspi – who as usual was the most fervent player on the court – closed the Greek’s lead, bringing it to a single digit with an emphatic dunk, 55 – 46 at the end of the quarter.
Maccabi held on at the start of the fourth quarter, with Casspi charging the basket at every opportunity.
One of his baskets took Maccabi to within seven, 57 – 50, two minutes into the final quarter, and Maccabi looked to be pulling themselves back into the game.
But the Israelis couldn’t keep up the pace on defense, and were slapped with three-pointers from Papaloukas and Greer, which brought the score to 66 – minutes.
The game started to slip through the tired hands of the Maccabi players, and even three-pointers by Williams and Casspi didn’t help, since they were immediately answered by shots from outside the arc by the Greeks.
An unsportsmanlike foul by Williams, brought on by sheer frustration, put the finishing touch on the game, and the clock ran out with the score Olympiacos 84, Maccabi 65.
Maccabi: Casspi 16 points; Batista 10 points; Eliyahu 9 points; Simmons 8 points; Williams and Brown 7 points each; Fischer 6 points, 6 rebounds; Hagag 2 points.
Burstein (4 assists) and Sharp played but did not score.
Olympiacos: Greer 21 points; Vujcic and Vasilopoulos 14 points each; Bourousis 12 points, 9 rebounds; Papaloukas 9 points, 5 assists; Printezis 6 points; Childress 4 points; Halperin and Schortsanitis 2 points each.
“We had a lot of turnovers in the second and third quarters.
Our game plan for tonight kind of fell apart because our leading point guard didn’t play.
As soon as they gained confidence, they started making their three-point shots.
There are positive things I can take from this game, but I prefer to keep them to myself.
They played on their home court.
Our problem was that most of tonight’s game plan was built around Arroyo.”
Outstanding player of the game for Maccabi, Omri Casspi: “We had a good run in the third quarter, until they started a flood of three-pointers, but that’s the way it goes.
Carlos is our point guard, he’s the heart, and his lack was felt.
There’s not much you can do, injuries are part of the game.
I’m happy Dror Hagag played well; he needs to keep on playing like that.”
Lior Eliyahu: “We played well, even great, in the first quarter.
We started off with a smart and aggressive game, too bad we only scored five points in the second quarter.
Next game, we need to stay aggressive in the second quarter.
We are really unhappy with the score from that quarter.”