maccabi tel aviv 298.88.
(photo credit: AP)
Maccabi Tel Aviv will look to settle the score with Partizan Belgrade on Thursday night when it hosts the Serbian squad at Nokia Arena in Matchday 9 of the Euroleague.
The reigning Israeli champions lost 103-91 to Belgrade in the second game of the European season, their biggest defeat in Continental play this year.
Maccabi is going for its 13th consecutive win at Nokia Arena, hoping to consolidate second place in Group B. The side won its first road game of its Euroleague campaign in Malaga last week and continued its recent steady improvement.
"This is an important game in the battle for second place in the standings," Maccabi center Nikola Vujcic said on Wednesday. "We need to win, we have no other choice. We lost in Belgrade and we must win on our home court."
Partizan comes into the game following a 10-point home win over Lottomatica Roma last week, but will need a vast improvement in its away form if it's to put up a fight on Thursday night. Belgrade has only won once in its four road games in the Euroleague and is an entirely different side when playing away from home.
The Serbian club averages 60 points away from Belgrade in comparison to 85.5 points in its home games. Partizan's scoring difficulties will be exaggerated by Maccabi, which leads the Euroleague with 91.3 points per game (96.5 ppg at Nokia Arena).
Any chance the visitors have will rest on the wide shoulders of big men Predrag Drobnjak (15.8 ppg, 6.5 rebounds pg) and Kosta Perovic (10.6 ppg, 7.1 rpg). The titanic twosome will keep Vujcic (14.8 ppg, 7.3 rpg, 4 assists pg) equally busy on offense and defense and Maccabi's Croatian will need help from his fellow big men to keep the Serbians at bay.
Lior Eliyahu (11.8 ppg, 5.6 rpg) who is doubtful for the game, Jamie Arnold (8.4 ppg, 5.1 rpg) and even Yaniv Green and Noel Felix could prove to be the eventual difference-makers under the baskets.
Belgrade playmaker Vonteego Cumming (12.4 ppg, 3.9 apg) is the only foreign player on his team and will need all the help he can get from Uros Tripkovic (7.3 ppg) and Luka Bogdanovic (7.4 ppg, 4 rpg) against Tel Aviv's powerful perimeter.
Yotam Halperin (8.4 ppg) finally lived up to expectations last week when he scored 24 points against Malaga and coach Neven Spahija will be hoping that performance was not a fluke.
Will Bynum (14.4 ppg) has shown more responsible playmaking in recent weeks and, together with veteran Derrick Sharp (9.1 ppg, 60% 3FG), give the hosts a reliable backcourt.
"Maccabi has finally found its best shape and in recent weeks is almost playing to its potential," Partizan coach Dusko Vujosevic told the Euroleague Web site. "Maccabi is playing on its home court and looking for revenge for the loss in Belgrade. However, we have nothing to lose and are highly motivated. Maccabi is a huge favorite, but we will do our best."