After suffering two straight defeats in the Euroleague, Maccabi Tel Aviv can
forget about ending Group B in first place should it lose again against
Chalon-Sor-Saone at Nokia Arena on Thursday night.
Maccabi was ideally
placed at the midway point of the regular season after beginning its campaign
with five consecutive wins, but two-point defeats to both Unicaja Malaga and
Montepaschi Siena in the last two weeks have seriously complicated the
yellowand- blue’s situation.
Maccabi no longer has its fate in its own
hands after being leapfrogged by Malaga and will likely need to win its final
three games and for the Spaniards to lose at Siena on Friday to finish atop of
Tel Aviv should have little trouble returning to winning ways
on Thursday against Chalon (2-5) after thrashing the French champion by 29
points (90-61) on the road when the teams met last month.
Maccabi coach David Blatt has never taken a team lightly in his career and has
no intention of starting to do so this week.
"We begin a new important
mission on Thursday – to win three games in a row,” said Blatt. “That is our
only chance to finish the group in first place and this mission starts with the
game against Chalon. Chalon has improved since we last saw them. They have added
an excellent player and have played much better than they did against us in
Chalon is led by American guard Blake Schilb, who is averaged
15.1 points, 4.7 rebounds and 4.0 assists so far this season. However, he missed
all eight of his field goal attempts in the game against Maccabi in France,
ending the night with just two points, and Chalon coach Gregor Beugnot is aware
he will require a perfect performance by Schilb, as well as the rest of his
roster, to have any chance of winning at Nokia.
"We are realistic and it
will be a miracle if we get a win against Maccabi,” Beugnot said. “But we are
surely going to try. We have been practicing well and played well in the French
league on Monday, so I hope we do so again.”