Maccabi Tel Aviv may still have one Euroleague regular season game to play, but
its Top 16 group has already begun to take shape after the yellow-and-blue
clinched first place in Group D over the weekend.
Maccabi improved to a
7-2 record with Thursday’s 78-71 win over Lietuvos Rytas Vilnius at Nokia Arena
and secured first place after Red Star Belgrade defeated Laboral Vitoria 81-65
on Thursday before Panathinaikos beat Lokomotiv Kuban 82-63 in Russia on
Tel Aviv visits Panathinaikos in Athens on Thursday in a showdown
between the old rivals in which only the Greeks will have something to play
While he would never admit it, Maccabi coach David Blatt can already
turn his focus to the Top 16, which will get underway on January
Maccabi already knows it will be coming up against Real Madrid, which
won Group B with a game to spare thanks to Friday’s 79-66 victory over
Madrid swept Maccabi 3- 0 in the Euroleague quarterfinals
last season before eventually losing in the final.
Tel Aviv also knows it
will face Galatasaray in the Top 16, with the Turks guaranteed to end Group C in
second place. The yellow-and-blue’s five remaining opponents in the next round
will be decided when the regular season comes to a close this coming
Meanwhile, Maccabi will look to record two straight BSL wins for
just the second time this season when it visits Barak Netanya on Monday
While Maccabi has won seven of its past eight Euroleague games,
it improved to just a 6-4 record with last week’s BSL victory over Maccabi
Hapoel Jerusalem’s (7-3) BSL game at Maccabi Haifa (6-4)
was postponed from Sunday to Friday due to the recent stormy
Friday’s training session at Malha Arena was canceled as a
result of the heavy snow in Jerusalem and four of the team’s players, Lior
Eliyahu, Yotam Halperin, Yaniv Green and Rafi Menko, were unable to join the
rest of the roster for Saturday’s workout following the closure of all roads to
Haifa asked that the game not be played on Monday when the
club’s soccer side faces Hapoel Ramat Hasharon and both teams agreed to
reschedule the contest for Friday, which will also allow them to focus on their
important Eurocup encounters on Wednesday.
Haifa, which has lost three of
its last four BSL games, requires a home win over Kalev Tallinn on Wednesday to
end Eurocup Group G in second place.
Jerusalem hosts Karsiyaka Izmir of
Turkey at Malha on Wednesday in a direct battle for second place in Group
Both Haifa and Jerusalem have already secured their progress to the
Eurocup Last 32, but will want to advance to the next round from the runners- up
position with wins this week.
On Sunday, the surging Ironi Ness Ziona
(7-3) visits Hapoel Eilat (5-5), which has lost three straight games, but has
added Israeli internationals Elishay Kadir and Yuval Naimi to its roster in the
past two weeks.
Also Sunday, Maccabi Ashdod hosts Hapoel Tel Aviv, Rishon
Lezion welcomes Hapoel Holon and Bnei Herzliya plays Hapoel Gilboa/Galil.
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