After strolling through a cupcake schedule filled with Balkan and Israeli opponents, Maccbai Tel Aviv finally met its match in Milan yesterday, fighting tooth and nail only to lose 89-82.
Besides Lior Eliyahu, head coach David Blatt did not have a single hoopster who played consistently well for more than a few minutes.
In contrast, Milan's Malik Hairston was all over the court, racking up a game-leading 25 points. Together with Danilo Gallinari, who played shot the lights out for Milan the last time the Italians and the Israelis mixed it up in the Euroleague a few years ago, and Greek center Ioannis Bourousis, the trio exposed the weaknesses of Maccabi's Sofoklis Schortsinatis.
While Jordan Farmar has been the lynchpin of Maccabi thus far, the NBA star made way for Euroleague stalwart Theodoros Papaloukas. Trailing 14-7, the Greek guard sparked a 14-0 run by Maccabi in the first quarter.
However, Milan began chipping away at Maccabi's lead and was able to take a slight lead at halftime. Maccabi ran into serious trouble in the third period, when Blatt could find no relief on his bench to swing the momentum back in the visitors' direction.
Maccabi's inconsistency prevented it from making a run down the stretch as Milan kept the lead mainly between seven and 10 points.
"Our first loss this season certainly isn't pleasant, but the season is very long and you have to take it in proportion," said Eliyahu after the game. "We have another game in two days."
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