Euroleague season slipping away from Mac TA Yellow-and-blue visits Galatasaray

Rishon Lezion still fighting for playoff berth in Champions League.

January 24, 2017 06:12
2 minute read.
Victor Rudd (left) has been one of the lone bright spots in Maccabi Tel Aviv’s disappointing Eurolea

Victor Rudd (left) has been one of the lone bright spots in Maccabi Tel Aviv’s disappointing Euroleague campaign, scoring in double figures in six consecutive games entering tonight’s clash against Galatasaray in Istanbul.. (photo credit: DANNY MARON)

With its hopes of reaching the Euroleague quarterfinals taking hit after hit over recent weeks, Maccabi Tel Aviv enters Tuesday’s encounter at Galatasaray knowing its chances of making the playoffs could be as good as over by the end of the week.

Should the yellow-and-blue fail to win in Istanbul and then overcome Unics Kazan at Yad Eliyahu Arena two days later, it will have little to play for over the final 10 games of the regular season.

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Maccabi’s 71-67 defeat to Red Star Belgrade last Thursday saw it drop to a 6-12 record, four games back of Darussafaka in eighth place. The yellow-and-blue has won just one of its past nine continental games and needs a remarkable, and what seems like a highly unlikely turnaround, to at least remain in contention for a playoff berth until the final weeks of the regular season.

Maccabi will be without the injured Quincy Miller and center Maik Zirbes, who is set to join Bayern Munich until the end of the season after a disappointing first season with the yellow-and-blue. The German averaged 8.1 points and 3.0 rebounds in 15 minutes per game and his departure will save Maccabi around $400,000.

Maccabi’s first Euroleague win of the season came against Galatasaray in October, with the Turkish team now holding the joint-worst record in the competition at 5-13.

All five of Galatasaray’s wins have come at home, including impressive victories against Olympiakos, Darussafaka and Barcelona.

“If we let them play their basketball we will lose,” said Maccabi coach Ainars Bagatskis.

“We need to put them under pressure as that will disrupt their play. Our upcoming schedule is like in the NBA, but that is not an excuse. We all want to be in the NBA so lets enjoy it the way they do.”

Elsewhere Tuesday, Maccabi Rishon Lezion’s fate in the FIBA Champions League will be determined when the regular season comes to a close.

Rishon has a 6-7 record and is in a fourway tie for the all-important fourth place in the group.

The top four teams from each group and the four best ranked fifth-placed teams will progress to the playoffs.

Rishon visits rock-bottom Khimik (3-10) in Ukraine and needs a win, as well as for other results to go its way, in order to advance.

“Unfortunately, we don’t depend only on ourselves, but we first need to win and we will then hope to receive some help,” said Avi Ben-Shimol.

On Wednesday, Ironi Nahariya (5-8) completes its Group A games when it visits Frankfurt.

On TV: Euroleague: Galatasaray vs Maccabi Tel Aviv (live on Sport5+Live at 7 p.m.). FIBA Champions League: Khimik vs Maccabi Rishon Lezion (live on Sport5 at 9:25 p.m.)

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