After laboring to its first win of the season on Monday, Maccabi Tel Aviv will
look to gather momentum when it hosts Red Star Belgrade in Euroleague action at
Nokia Arena on Thursday.
Maccabi barely held on for a 75-73 victory over
Maccabi Haifa in the BSL on Monday after rallying back from a 17- point
third-quarter deficit to come out on top.
The yellow-and-blue began the
season with two road defeats, falling to a shock loss at Hapoel Holon before
suffering a painful 84-80 setback in its continental opener at Laboral
Despite the win over Haifa, Maccabi coach David Blatt will want
to quickly forget about Monday’s contest, with his team still playing nowhere
near the level he or its fans expect.
“Our preparation for the season was
not good as we were without several of our players due to their national team
duties,” said Blatt.
“When they arrived I lost Shawn James to injury for
three weeks and Ricky Hickman and Devin Smith were also injured.
three leading players from last term didn’t start this season well because of
injuries, but I have no doubt that they will bounce back.”
six men in double figures, Belgrade dropped to a tight 87-84 home defeat to
Lokomotiv Kuban last week.
American Blake Schilb led the team with 17
points, and although he will be the primary target of the Maccabi defense, the
yellow-and-blue will also have to keep a watchful eye on DeMarcus Nelson and
Serbians Ivan Radenovic and Boban Marjanovic.
Maccabi’s defeat in Laboral
was especially frustrating as the yellow- and-blue managed to fight back from a
double-digit deficit to open a four-point lead (75-71) with four minutes to
But Tel Aviv couldn’t clinch the win, suffering from a
disappointing night from its bigmen, with centers Sofoklis Schortsanitis and
Shawn James combining for just 10 points and five rebounds.
started our recent games the way we should have, but we managed to come back and
beat Haifa for our first win,” said James, who signed a new deal with Maccabi in
the summer after a breakthrough season. “Now that we have taken a little monkey
off our backs with our first win we can focus on playing basketball. Every team
that faces us gives its all and no game is easy for us.
“This game on
Thursday is really important to us and you will see a determined Maccabi which
will play a lot better than on Monday.”
Yellow-and-blue sees opportunity
to build some momentum • By ALLON SINAI On TV: Maccabi Tel Aviv vs Red Star
Belgrade (live on Channel 10 at 8:55 p.m.)
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