By Amy Samin
Andrew Wisniewski, Chuck Eidson, Stephane Lasme, D’or Fischer and Alan Anderson made up the starting five for Maccabi, while Caja Laboral (the team formerly known as Tau Vitoria) went with Tiago Splitter, Sean Singletary, Mirza Teletovic, Fernando San-Emeterio and Carl English.
Though Eidson and Fischer helped get Maccabi off to a good start in the first quarter, Caja responded with a few threes, taking the lead 9 – 8 four minutes into the period.
The visitors continued to shoot well from outside the arc, allowing Maccabi to tie the score but not retake the lead until Eidson scored from the free throw line with less than a minute remaining, 18 – 17.
Maccabi’s advantage quickly evaporated, though, and the period ended with Caja Laboral in the lead, 20 – 18.
The visitors continued to dominate in the second quarter, increasing their lead to 29 – 20 after three and a half minutes of play.
Fischer scored twice for Maccabi (jumper off a behind-the-back assist from Doron Perkins and a putback) but was answered by Caja.
With just under six minutes left in the half, Guy Pnini came into the game and immediately started scoring, racking up 7 points before the end of the period.
Maccabi also came alive on defense, forcing the first of what would be four shot clock violations for the visitors.
Still, it wasn’t enough to get Maccabi back on top, and the half ended with Caja Laboral still in the lead, 43 – 34.
Maccabi opened strong in the third quarter, with a dunk from Fischer, three-pointers from Eidson (2) and Pnini, and steals by Pnini and Eidson.
When Pnini nailed a three from the corner, he put Maccabi within one, 49 – 48.
Lasme gave Maccabi the lead, 50 - 49 with two free throws, but Caja quickly retook the advantage and kept it for the rest of the game.
Maccabi continued to play hard, fighting for rebounds and shots, but the Spaniards were unstoppable from three point range.
The third quarter ended with Caja up by ten, 67 – 57.
Nothing much changed in the fourth quarter of the game, and within three minutes Caja’s lead had swollen to fifteen, 75 – 60.
Maccabi fought to get back in the game, with Eidson scoring from all over the court, but Caja continued to respond from outside the arc.
With just over two minutes left in the game, the visitors led 80 – 72.
Pnini came back in and contributed another five points, but it was too little, too late.
The game ended with a dunk from former Maccabi forward Lior Eliyahu, giving Caja Laboral a 91 – 82 win over Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv.
Maccabi: Eidson 19 points, 7 rebounds; Pnini 18 points; Lasme 11 points, 9 rebounds; Fischer 10 points; Anderson 7 points; Perkins 6 points; Wisniewski 5 points; Bluthenthal, Green and Lampe 2 points each.
Caja Laboral: Teletovic 28 points; English 18 points; Eliyahu and Barac 11 points each; Rivas 7 points; Splitter and San Emeterio 6 points each; Singletary 4 points.
After the game, Maccabi head coach Pini Gershon had this to say: “Their scoring percentages were amazing.
We were able to shut down two of their main players, but Teletovic and English were 52% from three point range.
It’s almost impossible to beat a team that’s scoring like that.”
“We played with every possible match-up, including short players guarding Teletovic, and we got back into the game.
But we couldn’t keep it going,” added Gershon.
“In the final minutes I think Anderson played pretty well, but I think the problem was our defense.”
“We still need to play in Moscow, and it’s a problem.
We’ve said all along that those three teams (CSKA, Caja Laboral and Maccabi) would be in contention for the top slots.
It could be that in the end we won’t be successful,” concluded the coach.
“Anything can happen in the Top 16.
I’m the jinx; I just can’t win against the Spanish teams.”
“We gave them too many open shots,” said Alan Anderson, who did not look focused during the game, finishing with 7 points and 1 of 11 from the field.
He insisted, “I was focused, but the coach makes the decisions.
I’m always in the game.
That’s basketball and it’s a running game.
Nobody is perfect.”
The guard added, “We’re better than we played tonight, and we need to learn from it.
Our fate is still in our hands.
The game next Thursday (against CSKA Moscow) will be a tough one, and I can tell you right now if we play the way we did tonight, we’ll lose.”
“They had an incredible percentage from three point range,” said Guy Pnini.
“We knew that they have great shooters and we needed to guard them, but we didn’t do a good job of it.
We should keep our heads up; it’s a long season and we still have a long way to go.
We need to figure out how to overcome this loss.
I think we had the energy, but our abilities weren’t up to it.
At this level, energy alone won’t get the job done.”
“I think they shot great and it was hard to stop them,” said Chuck Eidson, who finished the game with 19 points.
“We tried to stop them, and we need to keep working hard with as few mistakes as possible.”
Maciej Lampe, who played only a few minutes in the game, said, “Of course I’m disappointed; we wanted to win.
We made a few mistakes and they took advantage of them and won.
They had a fantastic game, especially from three point range, and won.
We need to move on and stay together.”