Maccabi Tel Aviv guard Andrew Goudelock.
(photo credit: DANNY MARON)
With losses mounting up and pressure levels soaring, Maccabi Tel Aviv is hoping perhaps a trip abroad to face Red Star Belgrade on Thursday night will help it get back on course.
Maccabi has experienced little joy at Yad Eliyahu Arena over recent weeks, losing two straight Euroleague games at home, against Efes Istanbul and Bamberg, to fall back under .500 (5-6). The yellow-and-blue also suffered its first BSL home defeat of the season on Monday, squandering a 14-point lead in the final six minutes to be stunned at the buzzer by Hapoel Gilboa/Galil.
Coach Rami Hadar’s position seems to be shakier by the day, and four games over the next eight days, starting with the visit to Belgrade, are likely to determine how much longer he remains in his job.
Maccabi hosts Gilboa once more on Sunday, this time in the State Cup round of 16, before welcoming reigning European champion CSKA Moscow next Wednesday.
Maccabi then visits David Blatt’s Darussafaka in Istanbul three days later.
“The tight schedule is sometimes a handicap, but it can also be an advantage,” said Hadar at Ben-Gurion Airport prior to the team’s departure for Serbia.
“You can quickly bounce back and there is no time to wallow in your pain. You need to prepare for the next game and do your job and that is what I’ve done. I hope we register the result we need.”
Hadar said he feels he has the backing of the club.
“I feel support within the club, from the management, the coaching staff and the players,” he explained. “I’m certain that we will overcome this crisis together. I’m a man who naturally wants to fight, so the thought of leaving didn’t cross my mind following the loss to Gilboa. Every season has ups and downs and we are currently experiencing a significant down. But I believe we will take a step forward in Belgrade.”
Red Star is also in desperate need of a win having lost three consecutive continental contests by an average 15 points per game to fall to 4-7.
Belgrade’s defense, ranked first in points allowed at under 72 points per game through eight games, has given up almost 92 on average in the last three contests.
The Serbs, who have the second-worst offense in the competition (73.3 ppg), are led in scoring by Marko Simonovic (12.6 points), followed by Milko Bjelica (10.5 ppg) and Marko Guduric (9.1 ppg).
“I don’t feel any pressure and I think it is simply ridiculous,” said guard Andrew Goudelock, who leads the team with an average 16.4 points per game. “Every time we lose everyone goes crazy and when we win everyone says we are the best. We went back to the drawing board after the defeat to Gilboa, spoke to each other and got out everything we had to say.