Yellow-and-blue sees opportunity to build some momentum

Maccabi barely held on for a 75-73 victory over Maccabi Haifa in the BSL on Monday after rallying back.

October 24, 2013 07:07
2 minute read.
Sofoklis Schortsanitis, Maccabi Tel Aviv

Sofoklis Schortsanitis maccabi tel aviv 370. (photo credit: Adi Avishai)

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.

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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 Vitoria.

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.

Our 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.”

Despite having 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 play.

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.

“We haven’t 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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