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Mac TA visits Moscow with eye on getting back to .500

January 18, 2013 06:47

“We are facing a very strong team which has grown to become a dominant force in Europe over recent years,” says Maccabi coach Blatt.

Maccabi Tel Aviv's Yogev Ohayon

Maccabi Tel Aviv's Yogev Ohayon 370. (photo credit:Adi Avishai)

After getting off the mark in the Euroleague Top 16 last week, Maccabi Tel Aviv visits Khimki Moscow on Friday, looking to boost its hopes of progressing to the quarterfinals with a road win.

Maccabi defeated Fenerbahce Ulker 91-73 at Nokia Arena last Thursday to improve to 1-2 in Group F and kick-start its campaign after two consecutive setbacks.

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However, it is aiming to achieve on Thursday something no other team in the Euroleague has managed this season, with Khimki a perfect 6-0 at home to date.

The Russians beat the likes of Real Madrid and Panathinaikos in the regular season before getting the better of Barcelona in Moscow two weeks ago.

Khimki suffered its first loss of the Top 16 at Montepaschi Seina last week (82- 76), but will nevertheless enter Friday’s encounter as the favorite.

“We are facing a very strong team which has grown to become a dominant force in Europe over recent years,” said Maccabi coach David Blatt. “They have lots of talent and ambition and their results show that. They have yet to lose at home this season and this is a real challenge for us. However, we are ready and as always are aiming to return with a win.”

Khimki’s star-studded roster, which was considering striking this week after not being paid in a timely manner, is led by Zoran Planinic, who is averaging 13.3 points and 5.8 assists per game, scoring in double figures in 11 of his last 12 Euroleague encounters.

“David Blatt is a very clever, wise and skillful coach,” said Khimki coach Rimas Kurtinaitis.

“He uses a lot of tactical changes and practices different defenses. In attack he uses fast-breaks and likes pick and rolls.

“You can’t prepare one scheme against Maccabi because you have to respond to all the changes during the game.”
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