Mac TA hopes Mekel provides needed boost • Hap J’lem on last legs

Kazan is on a five-game winning streak, and has won eight of its last nine Eurocup games after triumphing 92-82 at Yad Eliyahu Arena last Wednesday.

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January 27, 2016 06:55
2 minute read.
Gal Mekel is set to make his Eurocup debut for Maccabi Tel Aviv tonight when it visits Unics Kazan i

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)

 
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A shorthanded and ever-evolving Maccabi Tel Aviv roster looks to register an upset when the team visits Unics Kazan in freezing Russia in Eurocup Last 32 action on Wednesday night.

Temperatures in Kazan fell to -26 Celsius on Tuesday, but Maccabi’s focus will be on matters in the arena where it looks to improve to 3-1 in Group M and avenge last week’s home loss to the Russians.

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Kazan is on a five-game winning streak, and has won eight of its last nine Eurocup games after triumphing 92-82 at Yad Eliyahu Arena last Wednesday.

Former Maccabi player Keith Langford scored 30 points.

Gal Mekel will finally make his Eurocup debut for Maccabi on Wednesday, but the yellowand- blue will still be without the injured Brian Randle, Yogev Ohayon and Dragan Bender, as well as new signings Elijah Millsap and Cedric Simmons.

Former Utah Jazz forward Millsap, who played for Maccabi Ashdod briefly in 2014, arrived in Israel on Monday after being handed a deal until the end of the season. Simmons was signed for two weeks, with Maccabi having the option to extend the deal.

Millsap played 20 games for the Jazz this season before being waived earlier this month, averaging 1.8 points and 1.8 rebounds per game.

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Simmons suffered a serious knee injury in December 2014 and hasn’t played since.

Maccabi was hoping to add a more proven big-man before Tuesday’s Eurocup deadline, but was forced to settle for Simmons after negotiations with both Joey Dorsey and Zoran Erceg were unsuccessful.

Until his new players actually join the team in training and the injured return to action, Maccabi coach Zan Tabak will have to make do with nine senior players.

“What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger,” said Tabak. “In this period in our season we need to survive, we need to get better, and we need to try to win. We won the game against Nizhny with only nine players, and we’ll try to do the same thing here.”

Elsewhere, Hapoel Jerusalem will be officially eliminated from the Eurocup on Wednesday should it lose to Strasbourg at the Jerusalem Arena.

Hapoel dropped to 0-3 in Group H with last week’s 75-71 defeat in France and has to win on Wednesday to maintain any lingering hope of progressing to the round of 16.

“Every game is different. We will not give up,” said Jerusalem coach Danny Franco, who has come under fire with his team dropping to its fourth defeat in five games over all competitions with Sunday’s 82-72 BSL loss to Maccabi Haifa.

“We’ll take one game at time and we’ll see what happens.”

Elsewhere Wednesday, Maccabi Rishon Lezion can secure its progress to the Europe Cup round of 16 with a win at ASVEL Basket Villeurbanne of France.

Rishon and Villeurbanne both own 3-1 records, with the Israelis claiming an impressive 82-71 win at home when the teams met earlier this month.

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