By Amy Samin
Maccabi’s third loss in the Euroleague puts them farther away from the number one spot in Group C, with a record of 5 – 3.
Maccabi’s head coach David Blatt said after the loss: “It was a really bad day for us; we can’t play that way and look that way. There are a number of reasons for it, certainly one is that Real Madrid is a very strong team, but we could have and should have played a lot better. There’s no excuse for the way we played. It was a very bad day for us, and the question now is: how do we come back from it? It’s less a matter of basketball and more a matter of the character of the team and the players on it.”
“Sofo tried to play even though he isn’t 100% healthy, and when I saw that the game was lost I decided to let him rest and not put him at risk. Tonight, unlike in our last two games, we really felt the lack of another ball handler.”
Devin Smith, Lior Eliyahu, Yogev Ohayon, Sofo Schortsanitis, and Keith Langford were Maccabi’s starters. Madrid opened strong in the first quarter, but points from Eliyahu and Sofo kept Maccabi close, 6 – 5 after two minutes. Maccabi’s big men drew fouls from their Spanish counterparts, and Richard Hendrix at the charity stripe made it 10 – 8 close to midway through the period. The Spaniards took three trips to the foul line to extend their lead to 21 – 12 with a minute and a half left on the clock, and the quarter ended with the hosts up by seven, 22 – 15.
Sofo and Hendrix continued to score from the foul line and the paint, with a bucket and one by Hendrix putting Maccabi within five 24 – 19 two minutes into the period. But Nikola Mirotic drained a pair of three pointers to increase the home team’s lead to eight, 29 – 21, and two buckets in the paint by Hendrix were answered by points from Felipe Reyes and Martynas Pocius. Mirotic delivered yet another basket from outside the arc, but Langford went on a one-man scoring run, serving up seven straight points to put Maccabi within seven, 39 – 32. Two straight buckets by Eliyahu and a dunk by Shawn James narrowed the gap to three, 39 – 36 with just under two minutes left in the half. But the home team also scored points in that time, including a layup off a steal, and the half ended with Madrid leading 48 – 40.
The third quarter got off to a promising start with a steal by Ohayon, but Maccabi couldn’t convert it to points. Instead, the hosts’ lead grew to eleven, until points from Sofo (assist Langford) made it 51 – 42 after two and a half minutes. Real Madrid’s four trips to the charity stripe resulted in seven points for the home team, and J.C. Carroll and Pocius scored as well. Maccabi’s offense couldn’t muster much of a response, with Smith, Langford, and James scoring to earn Maccabi only eleven points in the period. At the end of the third quarter Madrid led 66 – 51.
Everything seemed to go the Spaniards’ way in the final period, especially for Carroll who scored eight points in the first two and a half minutes to make it 74 – 53. Guy Pnini scored from the corner (assist Hendrix) to make it 74 – 56, but Carroll continue to fire at will. Eliyahu scored a trey from the top of the arc and added two more from the foul line, but it just wasn’t enough to get Maccabi back in the game. In the end, Real Madrid defeated Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv 88 – 64.
Maccabi: Langford 18 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals,2 blocks; Eliyahu 11 points, 2 rebounds; Hendrix 10 points, 5 rebounds, 1 block, 1 assist; Schortsanitis 9 points, 4 rebounds; Smith 7 points, 3 rebounds; James 4 points, 5 rebounds, 1 block, 1 assist; Pnini 3 points, 2 rebounds; Papaloukas 2 points; Ohayon 2 steals, 2 rebounds; Scheyer 1 steal.
Top scorers for Real Madrid: Mirotic 26 points; Carroll 17 points.