After being humiliated by Hapoel Jerusalem in the Israeli league on the weekend, Maccabi Tel Aviv fell to Cedevita Zagreb at home. It was another huge upset for the club and as reigning Euroleague champions a double digit loss at home at this early stage will worry some. However, the Tel Aviv faithful will be buoyed by the fact that the club also started slow in this competition last season and hardly lit any fires through the Regular Season campaign.
The Croatian visitors deserve full credit though, they snuffed out Tel Aviv and poured in fourteen three point efforts through the game. It was the clubs’ first ever road win in the Euroleague and it will be remembered more as it came against the title holders.
Through the early stages the teams traded buckets until Tel Aviv led 8-7, but Cedevita started to gain confidence and pulled ahead as the stanza progressed. A 0-11 run for Zagreb gave them a 15-24 lead, but the Israeli club fought back to cut the deficit to 22-26 after 10 minutes on the deck. Cedevita once again took the initiative early in the second quarter and made it a double digit game at 27-37, but once again Tel Aviv came back into the game. At the midway buzzer the deficit remained at four points as the teams tied the second frame for a 40-44 halftime score.
The hosts could never overthrow Zagreb, who always stayed one step ahead. In the third quarter the away team once again paced to a double digit lead on the back of a 2-13 run, and this time they held it to put the scoreboard on 57-68 through 30 minutes. Through the final act Tel Aviv tried to hustle on the hardwood, but by now Cedevita was secure and held the points for the win.
Roko Ukic grabbed 17 points in success, while Nemanja Gordic nailed 16 points, Fran Pilepic 14 points, and Miro Bilan and Mario Delas 10 points and 9 rebounds each.
Jeremy Pargo kept Tel Aviv in touch with a game high 24 points and Devin Smith secured 14 points in the losing effort.