Maccabi Tel Aviv coach David Blatt was given much-needed time to rebuild his
team on Friday after the yellow-and-blue was handed a favorable draw in the
Euroleague regular season.
Maccabi’s toughest opponent in Group B will be
Italian powerhouse Montepaschi Siena, with Unicaja Malaga also likely to have a
relatively strong side.
However, Alba Berlin, Prokom Gdynia of Poland and
Chalon-Sur-Saone of France are not expected to cause the new-look Tel Aviv much
trouble, with a place in the Top 16 already looking all but guaranteed
considering the top four from each of the four groups will advance to the next
The Top 16 will have a new format in 2012/13, with the teams to be
split into two groups of eight and the best four to progress to the playoffs
after a 14-game round robin.
The regular season will get underway on
Last year, Maccabi made panic driven decisions when it
assembled its roster, worried that it might not even qualify for the Top 16
following what it deemed to be a difficult regular season draw.
Tel Aviv will have no such concerns this time, allowing Blatt to overhaul the
team without too much pressure.
“This is a comfortable draw when you
consider the alternatives,” Blatt said.
“However, I don’t think it is a
good idea to get complacent. We are building a new team and it would be best to
complete the roster as soon as possible so that we will have time to gel before
the crucial stages of the season.”
As things currently stand, Guy Pnini
and Devin Smith are the only significant players guaranteed to continue for
Lior Eliyahu and new signing Sylven Landesberg are both
under contract and are expected to play for the team next
However, they will try their luck with the Minnesota Timberwolves
in the Summer League later this month and can leave if they are offered an NBA
Georgian center Giorgi Shermadini and American guard Ricky
Hickman will be two of Tel Aviv’s new faces, with American forward Nik
Caner-Medley close to completing his move from Valencia and Yotam Halperin set
to return home after four seasons abroad.
Alex Tyus, who recently
received Israeli citizenship, is also in negotiations to join
Question marks remain regarding the future of Shawn James and
Tal Burstein, who is considering retirement, while Yogev Ohayon and Maccabi look
set to meet in arbitration after the 25-year-old guard requested to leave
following the yellowand- blue’s refusal to give him the raise he expected after
a breakthrough season.
Also Friday, Hapoel Holon was drawn into Group H
of the EuroChallenge with Antwerp Giants of Belgium, Telekom Baskets Bonn of
Germany and Armia Tbilisi of Georgia.
The regular season tips off on
November 6, with the top two from each group to advance to the next stage.
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