Another week, another must-win game for Maccabi Tel Aviv.
alive its lingering hopes of advancing to the Euroleague quarterfinals by
crushing Montepaschi Siena by 31 points last week (92-61). However, its most
impressive showing of the season to date will be of little significance should
it fail to back it up with a road win at Caja Laboral Vitoria on Thursday
Tel Aviv improved to 3-5 with last week’s win, but remained in
sixth position in Group F and is still two games out of an elusive place in the
top four with six more games to play in the Top 16.
will play four of its remaining six encounters away from Tel Aviv, including
extremely tough showdowns at Olympiacos and Barcelona, meaning its chances of
progressing will be as good as over should it lose to Vitoria for the second
time this season on Thursday.
Caja beat Maccabi 71-70 in Top 16 Game 2
thanks to a basket from Fernando San Emeterio with nine seconds to play, the
first of three tight home defeats suffered by Tel Aviv that have seriously
complicated its situation.
“This is a very critical game,” said Maccabi
coach David Blatt. “All the games until now have also been important, but it is
obvious at this stage that we need to win on the road to have a chance,
especially against teams which we lost to at home, like Caja.
have to play like we did against Siena to win. We are in the same mental
state as we were before the game against Siena, but the dynamics of a road game
After missing the team’s last two Euroleague games due to
strained ligaments in his left knee, Lior Eliyahu will be back in action on
Thursday, but is likely to play a limited role after seeing just eight minutes
on court in his return from injury in Sunday’s BSL win over Hapoel
Vitoria managed to win in Tel Aviv despite a season-low five
points from its best player of the campaign and former Maccabi center Maciej
Lampe, who has scored in double-figures in every other Top 16 game, averaging
14.8 points and 6.8 rebounds.
The job of stopping Lampe will be
shouldered mainly by Shawn James, whose averages of 13.8 points and 6.8 rebounds
in the Top 16 are almost identical to those of the Pole.
also likely require another top showing from Devin Smith, who shared the Top 16
Game 8 MVP award last week after tallying 19 points, eight rebounds and four
“We know what we need to do to win and we are going to leave
everything out on court,” Smith said. “It is true that the energy in road games
is different, but we will try to emulate what we did against Siena. “We
still have a chance.”
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