Gal Mekel is set to make his Eurocup debut for Maccabi Tel Aviv tonight when it visits Unics Kazan in Last 32 action..
(photo credit: UDI ZITIAT)
A place in the Eurocup round of 16, as well as plenty of pride, will be on the line when Maccabi Tel Aviv hosts Nizhny Novgorod at Yad Eliyahu Arena on Wednesday night.
Maccabi enters the game on the back of its worst-ever defeat in local action, a 35-point humbling at the hands of Maccabi Haifa in the BSL.
The yellow-and-blue has also lost its past three Eurocup Last 32 games to fall to 2-3 in Group M. Nizhny also dropped to 2-3 last week, setting the stage for Wednesday’s do-or-die showdown in Tel Aviv.
Maccabi has lost four of six games over all competitions, but should welcome back the injured Devin Smith, Trevor Mbakwe and Brian Randle on Wednesday after all three missed the game in Haifa and the Eurocup loss at Olimpija Ljubljana last week.
“Our performance against Haifa was unacceptable,” said captain Guy Pnini. “But the season is still long and we have players that are mentally strong enough to get out of this situation.
“We are facing a game that will decide our future in Europe. Sometimes you succeed and win titles and sometimes you don’t succeed and it looks like it did in Haifa.
In such a long season you will have ups and downs. We don’t want to slip-up, but it can happen. Our job is to recover from these setbacks.”
Maccabi registered one of its more impressive wins this season last month when it overcame Nizhny in Russia 87-83. Maccabi was playing with just one point guard, Taylor Rochestie. Yogev Ohayon was out injured, Jordan Farmar had left the team earlier in the week and new signing Gal Mekel was not available.
Rochestie led five Maccabi players in double-figures with 17 points, but he has completely lost his way in recent weeks, scoring 6-of-45 shots from the field (13.3%) over the past five games.
Hapoel Jerusalem will also complete its Last 32 games on Wednesday when it visits Gran Canaria.
Jerusalem lost any hope of progressing two weeks ago after losing its first four group games and will be aiming to avoid a humbling 0-6 record in Group H in Spain.
Maccabi Rishon Lezion will be back in Europe Cup action next week when the round of 16 gets underway. Rishon will visit Ventspils of Latvia in Game 1 next Wednesday, and host Game 2 the following week, with a decisive Game 3 to take place in Latvia a week later should it be required.
Rishon ended round of 32 Group O in second place with a 4-2 record.