Mission Impossible? Hope is all that's left for Jonah Bolden’s Maccabi
It was double-week in EuroLeague, resulting in two times more games for all the teams and the fans. However it turned out to be twice as many losses for the Aussie men, and as result, the EuroLeague season will effectively end for them in 2 weeks.
Maccabi Tel Aviv was comfortably standing in the final playoff position in 8th spot just one month ago, but unfortunately the team fell into a hole filled with losses. Jonah Bolden and the other yellows lost two more games this week, albeit against top 5 opponents.
And still the Israeli team had a chance to finish the week with at least one win. Yes, it wasn’t even close against defending EuroLeague champions Fenerbahce in Istanbul 73-87, but in the game at home against Panathinaikos Athens, all they needed was a little bit more luck.
With just 25 seconds left, Maccabi was in front by one point after a Michael Roll three-pointer, however the visitors from Greece had their own answer. Mike James made a two-pointer with just 5 seconds remaining, and while DeShaun Thomas had enough time and space to release the potential game-winner for Maccabi, it didn’t fall through as they fell 75-76.
These two games for Bolden were different as day and night. Against Fenerbahce, the forward scored 12 points (5-9 FG, grabbed 7 rebounds, made 2 assists with 1 steal, finishing the game with 17 efficiency points in 23 minutes. But when the team needed the Aussie the most, he disappeared in his own shadow – just 2 points, 2 rebounds and -3 efficiency points in 15 minutes against the Greeks.
This Maccabi loss opened the door to a possible quarterfinal berth for Zalgiris Kaunas - Brock Motum's former side - so there is just one spot left with two rounds to go. But - there is always a but - the Israeli's still have a chance. A really small, but mathematical chance to make the playoffs if results go their way across the final two rounds.
With 13 wins and 15 losses Maccabi stands in 9th position with 2 wins behind Baskonia Vitoria Gasteiz. These two teams will face each other next week. If the yellow's could get a win in Spain, they would need not just win against Valencia Basket at home in the last round, but also expect Anadolou Efes Istanbul to take down Baskonia in their match-up.
Given their difficult season, t is hard to believe that Brock Motum and the 2018 Turkish Cup winners could deliver a gift like that. The worst team in EuroLeague this season fought gallantly but lost two more games this week. After gaining an 11 point advantage after the first quarter, the Turkish squad lost against Khimki Moscow by twelve, 73-85. However they showed some character in Pireaus, where they were able to cut the deficit from 17 to 7 points against Olympiacos in their narrow 82-89 loss.
The Aussie scored 11 points (4-8 FG) with 6 rebounds, 3 assists and an efficiency of 15 in 25 minutes against the visitors from Russia, while the game in Greece he added 7 points (3-6 FG), 2 rebounds and 6 efficiency points.
For Anadolu, it was 6th and 7th losses in a row to make it 22 overall on the season. And despite that record, Maccabi and Bolden’s fans still hope that the Turks will surprise everyone by finishing the season with a win against Baskonia. Even it sounds like mission impossible, hope is all they have left.