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 the group.

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.

Nevertheless, 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 recent games.”

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.”

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