Maccabi Tel Aviv's Ricky Hickman 370.
(photo credit: Adi Avishai)
Even the ever-optimistic David Blatt admitted on Wednesday that the duel against
Montepaschi Siena at Nokia Arena on Thursday night presents the yellow-and-blue
with its final chance to resurrect its Euroleague Top 16
Maccabi lost any realistic hope of advancing to the
quarterfinals after falling to a 2-5 record at the midway point of Top 16 Group
F with last week’s 82-77 home-loss to Barcelona.
However, Coach Blatt was
adamant on Wednesday that Tel Aviv has still got plenty to fight for and is
desperate to maintain its lingering chance of progressing, at least for one more
“This game is beyond important,” Blatt said in his pre-game press
“This is certainly our last chance. I don’t think we lacked
ambition or motivation in our previous games, but we will have to be even more
ambitious and motivated because there is certainly no way back from this
Siena beat Maccabi 79-69 in Italy in their Top 16 opener, with the
teams splitting their two encounters in the regular season.
Aviv’s win over the Tuscans came more than four months ago, with Siena going 6-1
in the Top 16 so far, only losing to Barcelona on the road.
been unstoppable on the offensive end at times this season, leading the
Euroleague in scoring (83.9 PPG), three-pointers made (193), three-point
percentage (41.6%), free throws made (267), free-throw percentage (81.2%) and
assist-to-turnover ratio (1.45).
The team’s proficiency from beyond the
arc is especially impressive, with Siena averaging more than 10 three-pointers
per game, scoring 53 more triples so far this season than the league’s
“Siena is a very good and dangerous team,” Blatt
“Their results in the Top 16 talk for themselves. They have weapons
and a system that really work for them and we will have to limit them by first
and foremost playing for the full 40 minutes. Our biggest problem until now has
been that we’ve played not so good minutes beside some very good ones and we
need to avoid that against Siena.”
Blatt acknowledged that the most his
team can do to deny Siena from beyond the arc is to make sure its shooters don’t
have any uncontested shots.
“There are some things that depend on us and
some that don’t when it comes to their three-point shooting,” he
“The key for us is to make sure they don’t have any open shots from
beyond the arc. If we do that, than it will then be up to the basketball
With Lior Eliyahu’s chances of returning from injury in time for
Thursday’s game very small, Maccabi will need someone unexpected to step
Blatt is at least confident that his players will not be lacking in
fighting spirit despite losing three home games in the Top 16 in heartbreaking
fashion by a combined seven points.
“I think that the players feel that
we still have a chance,” he said. “We haven’t given up.
That’s for sure.
And even when we no longer have a chance we will continue to play.”