By Dionysis Aravantinos / email@example.com
After losing to Panathinaikos Superfoods Athens in crunch time, coach Spahija commented on the way things turned out this season, why he did not play Pierre Jackson in the clutch, why Maccabi can’t win close games and not making the Top-8.
When asked about not making the Top-8 coach Spahija said the following: “In the new format, Maccabi has never been in the top-8. If you want to call it a failure, call it a failure. Don’t think I’m happy. I want to win, and I want to be better.”
Maccabi’s coach stated that the fans should be proud of their team, as the players showed how much they wanted this win: “The game was close at the end, but we could not find a way to execute. Unfortunately, we were supposed to win both games against Khimki and Panathinaikos. One turnover, one rebound, one call can affect the game on either side. We showed how much we wanted to win. The fans should be proud of this team and its players. It was so difficult to play against these great teams in Europe. We won so many games, and so many times close. Unfortunately, all these close games went to the other side. We have to wait for the game Barcelona – Baskonia to know what we have to do moving forward.”
Maccabi’s point guard Pierre Jackson was not used in the final minutes of the contest. Spahija says that it was a different game: “We switched, and it is a little problem when Pierre is inside because of his size. It was a different game, and that’s all. I put my biggest players to guard.”
Maccabi has lost many close games this season and is 0-7 in the second round against playoff teams. According to Spahija, experience plays a huge role: “We are for the first time together. Twelve new people and we are playing, playing and playing. Spending time together and practicing will only fix this. Panathinaikos‘ players have huge experience. The experience, the coaches and the players are the reasons as to why they win the close games.”
When asked about cutting the rotation to nine players, he said the following: “I don’t think this is the problem. I told you, we are just eight months together. I don’t think we lost these two games, because of the rotation. Whoever is playing, has enough quality to play at a similar level. I’m not saying that they are bad, but they are not experienced.”
For the other side, Mike James had a career-night and also made the game-winner. His confidence helped Panathinaikos in the final seconds: “I knew it was going in,” he said after the game, while coach Xavi Pascual gave credit to his players for the win.
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