Former Cleveland Cavaliers head coach David Blatt.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Maccabi Tel Aviv is in danger of registering its longest ever losing streak in Euroleague action on Friday, with one of its favorite sons inflicting the pain.
David Blatt and Darussafaka host the yellow-and-blue in Istanbul after Maccabi dropped to its fourth straight defeat in the competition on Wednesday, squandering an 18-point lead against reigning champion CSKA Moscow to lose 80-76.
Maccabi was guided on Wednesday by interim coach Lior Lubin, who will also be at the helm on Friday.
Blatt’s Latvian assistant Ainars Bagatskis will officially become Maccabi’s new head coach, its third this season after Erez Edelstein and Rami Hadar, following the game.
Bagatskis’ first Euroleague game in charge of the yellowand- blue will be against Baskonia Vitoria next Thursday, which will also mark the halfway point of the regular season. He may end up inheriting a team in the midst of its worst ever Euroleague run, with Maccabi never previously losing five games in a row in the competition.
A defeat in Istanbul will leave it four games below .500 (5-9), complicating even further its position in the battle for a top eight finish and progress to the playoffs.
Maccabi enjoyed some encouraging moments against CS KA, especially in the first quarter which it ended in a 15-point lead. However, the Russians closed within four points by the break and held their composure the better of the two teams in the closing stages, with Maccabi, and especially Sonny Weems, losing their head.
Weems was desperate to record an impressive revenge game against the team he played for between 2012 and 2015, but the yellow-andblue’s highest paid player at an estimated $1.3 million a year, ended the night with no points and six turnovers. Four of those turnovers arrived in the final four minutes, during which he also committed an offensive foul.
“There were a lot of things we liked in this game,” said Lubin, who explained that he left Weems on court as he was excellent on defense.
“I think we answered the challenge and showed what we need to do to have a chance to beat a team like CSKA. I think we took a step forward.”
Blatt joined Darussafaka this past summer after his interviews in New York, Houston and Sacramento didn’t end with an offer for a head coaching position in the NBA.
Blatt was fired in January by the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers, who he joined in 2014 after leading Maccabi to the Euroleague title.
Darussafaka was in the midst of a four-game losing streak in the Euroleague until last week, but enters Friday’s encounter brimming with confidence after beating Fenerbahce 71-64 on Wednesday on the back of last week’s win over Real Madrid.