Mac TA puts 7-game Euroleague run on line vs Moscow

December 16, 2010 04:02

Maccabi clinched first place in its group with a 76-62 win over Partizan Belgrade last week, its seventh straight victory.

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Maccabi Tel Aviv

maccabi tel aviv 311. (photo credit: AP)

Despite having wrapped up first position in Group A with two regular season games to spare, Maccabi Tel Aviv coach David Blatt feels his team has plenty to play for when it hosts BC Khimki Moscow at Nokia Arena on Thursday night.

Maccabi clinched first place in its group with a 76-62 win over Partizan Belgrade last week, its seventh straight victory. But Blatt is confident his players will give their all once more on Thursday, even though Tel Aviv can already turn its focus to the start of the Top 16 on January 19.

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“We have three main reasons to win this game,” Blatt said. “Around 12,000 fans will be at the arena on Thursday and many more will be watching on TV, so it is our obligation to do our best for them.

“We are also aware of the fact that the result of this game is important to the other teams in the group so we must try and win. And most importantly, we are a proud team and we want to continue and play good and positive basketball the way we have done so far in the Euroleague and BSL.”

Maccabi edged Khimki when they met last month in Russia, winning 78- 76 thanks to a David Blu last-second game-winning three-pointer.

Khimki lost three of its next four continental games and at 3-5 finds itself in a must-win situation on Thursday.

A loss at Nokia could see the Russians lose all hope of advancing as early as Thursday night and coach Sergio Scariolo is hoping his team will finally raise its level of play away from home in Tel Aviv.

“Maccabi has deserved first place in the group,” he said. “Our performances on the road haven’t been at the same level as at home so far. We understand that now is the time to do it. We should raise the concentration and the defensive level for all 40 minutes.

And we must play our best game on the road to have a chance to reach the Top 16.”

Sofoklis Schortsanitis, Richard Hendrix and Guy Pnini are all expected to shake off injuries and play on Thursday, but Blatt remains wary of Khimki.

“Moscow has a very strong roster and in the Euroleague any team can win on a given night,” he said. “They have had some ups and downs this season, but with so many good players they will be a difficult team to beat.”

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