Yellow-and-blue can’t take road test in Lithuania lightly

After seemingly turning a corner last week, Maccabi Tel Aviv will look to continue and build some more momentum when it visits Lietuvos Rytas Vilnius in the Euroleague on Thursday night.

By
November 7, 2013 03:57
1 minute read.
NEWCOMER JOE INGLES.

NEWCOMER JOE INGLES 370. (photo credit: Adi Avishai)

After seemingly turning a corner last week, Maccabi Tel Aviv will look to continue and build some more momentum when it visits Lietuvos Rytas Vilnius in the Euroleague on Thursday night.

Maccabi outplayed Lokomotiv Kuban on the way to a 73- 58 win in Russia last Friday to improve to 2-1 in Euroleague Group D before getting back to winning ways and moving to 2-2 in the BSL with an 85-74 victory at Hapoel Gilboa/Galil on Monday.

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Another road win in Lithuania on Thursday night will truly turn Maccabi’s early season struggles into a distant memory, but Vilnius is just as desperate for a victory after dropping to 1-2 last week with a humbling 85-64 home defeat to Laboral Vitoria.

Vilnius was also out of its league in the 68-53 loss at Kuban the previous week, but it did stun Panathinaikos in its opener and Maccabi coach David Blatt wants his team to be ready for Rytas’ best on Thursday.

“Rytas has a lot of weapons and has played some excellent basketball among some erratic play,” Blatt said. “That characterizes many teams at this early stage of the season. We are playing better, but we are still not where we want to be.”

Martynas Gecevicius leads the team in scoring in the Euroleague after three games, averaging just 10.7 points, with veterans Darius Songaila (10.0 ppg) and Omar Cook (9.7 ppg) not far behind.

“In the first few weeks of the season we played very well and won 10 games in a row,” said Vilnius coach Dirk Bauermann.

“Now we are going through a hard time. We must look at ourselves and start playing better defensively.”

Maccabi’s difficulties in the BSL so far can largely be explained by the absence of Devin Smith, who has sat out all four of the team’s encounters in local action to rest his knee ahead of Euroleague competition.

However, Smith should soon be ready to play twice a week and is in a confident mood ahead of Thursday.

“We need to consistently bring the right mentality and we need to be aggressive for the whole 40 minutes of the game,” he said. “We’re going into this game with the right mentality, and we want to come back with the win.”


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