Under-fire Maccabi Tel Aviv visits Serbia in search of its mojo

By
November 28, 2013 00:23

Maccabi dropped to a 70-65 defeat to the Spaniards at Nokia Arena last week, ending its four-game continental winning streak.

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Maccabi Tel Aviv's Sofoklis Schortsanitis scores

Maccabi Tel Aviv's Sofoklis Schortsanitis scores 370. (photo credit: Adi Avishai)

After suffering its first home loss of the season to Laboral Vitoria, Maccabi Tel Aviv will look to reignite its Euroleague campaign and edge closer to clinching its place in the Top 16 when it travels to Red Star Belgrade on Thursday night.

Maccabi dropped to a 70-65 defeat to the Spaniards at Nokia Arena last week, ending its four-game continental winning streak. Nevertheless, the yellow-and-blue still sits in second place in Group D with a 4-2 record, one game behind Lokomotiv Kuban and one game ahead of Panathinaikos and Vitoria.

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With the best four teams from each regular season group advancing to the next stage, Maccabi can effectively clinch its place in the Top 16 with a win on Thursday as that would open a three-game lead over the team in fifth place with just three games remaining.

Maccabi struggled to an 83- 79 win over Hapoel Eilat in BSL action on Monday, but coach David Blatt was simply delighted at clinching a victory after last week’s loss in the derby against Hapoel Tel Aviv and the setback versus Vitoria.

“The win helped settle the guys and allowed us to leave for Belgrade in a better mood,” said Blatt. “Maccabi has played in Belgrade many times in the past and we recognize the strength of their fans. It won’t be easy, but this is the type of game every player looks forward to.”

Blatt had a heated exchange with David Blu during the game against Eilat before also clashing with Tyrese Rice. However, he insisted that the media made too much of the Blu incident, claiming that it was similar to a parent shouting at his child.

The coach also had a one-on-one conversation with Rice in Serbia on Wednesday and straightened out matters with the guard, who chose to sit alone at the end of the bench during one of Blatt’s sideline briefings instead of joining the team huddle.

Center Shawn James, who suffered with his back in the win over Eilat, should be fit to play in Thursday’s game and he is hoping to help Maccabi finally overcome its rebounding woes.

“We know what we need to do,” claimed James. “We are Maccabi and we will take hits, but we always fight back and that is what we need to do right now.”


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