Roca Team has started the best of five series in the EuroLeague play-offs with a home defeat. Monaco’s basketball team played a hopeless match against Maccabi Tel Aviv, which dominated from the start and eventually won 79-67. Monaco has to win one of the coming two matches in Israel to play again at home in the Gaston Medicin Hall and to qualify for the Final Four for the very first time.  

This is a dramatic outcome for Roca Team, which after winning the Coupe de France on Saturday certainly would not have taken such a scenario into account. Manager Sasa Obradovic saw his team fail at this crucial moment in the season. Last season Monaco was eliminated by Olympiakos in five matches, just before joining the Final Four of the EuroLeague. Everybody around the team, which is also leader in the French championship, hoped it would do better this season.  

Monaco played a sloppy game and that is especially evident from the statistics that the team only managed to use four of the 26 attempts to score with a three-pointer. Maccabi Tel Aviv was inspired and took the lead in the first minutes, with Wayne Baldwin as the spectre for the Monegasques because he took his team in tow with devilish actions. He also stood out with a dive that is more regular seen on a football field. At half time Roca Team was still in the match although Maccabi had the lead : 33-36. At that moment the Monegasques had not scored with a three-pointer, a form of failure that is unprecedented at this level.  

The nightmare continued in the third period when the Israelites really distanced themselves. After 25 minutes the score was already 54-41 and the game seemed to have already been decided because Monaco made a despondent impression against the relaxed Maccabi. Five minutes later there was a spark of hope for the fans of Roca Team because their team managed to catch up a bit : 60-50. But at the start of the last quarter Maccabi distanced itself more from their opponents. It took more than two minutes for Monaco to score themselves, but by then the deficit was already irreparably large. Maccabi played out the game frivolously, in front of many of their fans: 79-67.  

On Thursday, Roca Team will get a chance to correct this mistake and balance the overall score in Tel Aviv. But of all the clubs in the EuroLeague Maccabi has the best record in home matches. The club won in 2014 the EuroLeague and based on the past, is now the favourite to make it to the Final Four. 

FILE PHOTO: Maccabi Tel Aviv