Maccabi Tel Aviv’s forward Devin Smith..
(photo credit: NOAM GALAI/MACCABI TEL AVIV)
Maccabi Tel Aviv aims to put its recent crisis well and truly behind it and move to the brink of qualification for the Euroleague Top 16 when it visits Limoges in France on Thursday night.
The yellow-and-blue looked to have completely lost its way after suffering three humbling defeats in succession over a nightmarish eight days earlier this month.
The reigning Euroleague champion capitulated in BSL action against both Hapoel Jerusalem and Hapoel Tel Aviv, with a surprise home defeat to Croatian minnows Cedevita Zagreb sandwiched in between.
However, Guy Goodes’s team righted the ship with a hard-fought 70-66 victory at Unicaja Malaga last week before also returning to winning ways in the BSL on Monday with a straight-forward triumph over Hapoel Gilboa/Galil.
Limoges, playing in the Euroleague for the first time since 1998, was easily defeated by Maccabi in their Euroleague opener, with the yellow-and-blue winning 92-76.
The French champion has since won just a single game, beating Cedevita 71-60.
Limoges did, however, give group leader CSKA Moscow a run for its money last week, taking a 12-point gap into the fourth quarter before being outscored 27-5 in the final 10 minutes on the way to an 86-76 defeat.
Limoges and Cedevita are currently tied at the bottom of Group B with a 1-4 record, with Maccabi at 3-2. The top four in the six-team group will progress to the Top 16 and a yellow-and-blue win in France combined with a likely Zagreb defeat at Unicaja Malaga on Friday can already give Tel Aviv a three-game lead over fifth place with just four regular season games to play.
“After three straight defeats we found ourselves in a bad place and when that happened you do anything you can to get out of it,” said Maccabi Tel Aviv coach Guy Goodes.
“The guys worked hard and we recorded a tough win in Malaga and went on to beat Gilboa. Every victory gives the players more confidence and we need to continue and win.
“Limoges is fighting for its life and this may be its last chance to stay in the picture,” Goodes added. “They came close to beating CSKA Moscow last week and games like this are never easy. We need to focus on our game plan and make sure we are ready, both mentally and physically.
A win in France will put us in a very good position to reach the Top 16.”