After an erratic season to date, Maccabi Tel Aviv is hoping center Alex Tyus comes up with one of his better performances Thursdy when the yellow-and-blue hosts Galatasaray at Yad Eliyahu Arena.
(photo credit: DANNY MARON)
Four defeats from its past six Euroleague Top 16 games have seriously complicated Maccabi Tel Aviv’s situation entering Thursday night’s showdown with Galatasaray at Yad Eliyahu Arena.
The yellow-and-blue fell to 7-5 following last week’s 86-75 defeat at Real Madrid, but can advance to the quarterfinals with a win and a favor from Panathinaikos on Thursday.
Maccabi hosts Galatasaray of Turkey on Thursday, before completing its group games at Alba Berlin next week. With Real and Barcelona already wrapping up first and second places in the group, Tel Aviv is battling Panathinaikos (7-5) and Alba (6-6) for the two additional quarterfinal berths. Maccabi can already guarantee its qualification should it beat the Turks and Panathinaikos defeat Berlin in Greece later Thursday.
However, any other combination of results will mean next Thursday’s game against Alba in the German capital will become a direct showdown for a place in the last eight, with Panathinaikos to host Red Star Belgrade next week.
Maccabi will be a firm favorite to beat Gala on Thursday, with the Turks losing their past nine games to fall to 2-10 in the Top 16.
Galatasaray is also 1-10 on the road this season and its financial struggles have already seen six players leave the club prematurely, the last of which being star guard Carlos Arroyo.
However, even without an injured Arroyo, Galatasaray gave Maccabi a tough time in Istanbul when the teams last played two months ago.
Maccabi required a Jeremy Pargo buzzer-beating triple in overtime to register a 97-94 victory at Abdi Ipekci Arena, capping a five-game winning streak.
Sofoklis Schortsanitis and Yogev Ohayon are expected to be fit to play, after sitting out Monday’s BSL win over Hapoel Holon, while Sylven Landesberg is still out despite finally returning to training this week after recovering from a stress fracture in his right foot.
“This is a do-or-die game,” said Maccabi coach Guy Goodes. “We will be ready and will enter the game with all our energy. Our injured players will play on one leg if they need to. We need our fans to be at their best, because we are playing for a place in the quarterfinals. I’m really excited, because this is one of those games every coach and player wants to be a part of.”
Goodes insisted Galatasaray’s recent poor run of results doesn’t guarantee his team anything.
“I’ve been in a similar situation in the past and this is the most dangerous time to play these teams, because they have nothing to lose,” he explained.
“Their players will want to show what they are capable of ahead of next season and we can’t underestimate them. It is very important that we start the game well. We need to be aggressive from the start and not allow them to feel comfortable.”
Also Thursday, Hapoel Tel Aviv hosts Maccabi Ashdod in BSL action postponed from Monday due to the untimely passing of Hapoel team manager Uri Shelef.
A ceremony honoring Shelef, who died on Sunday from cardiac arrest at the age of 43, will be held before the game, with the No. 15 jersey – the one Shelef wore as a player at Hapoel – to be retired.