Maccabi Tel Aviv guard Jordan Farmar led all scorers with 23 points in Thursday night’s 84-54 win over Ironi Ness Ziona in their Winner Cup quarterfinal in Holon.
(photo credit: DANNY MARON)
Maccabi Tel Aviv’s Euroleague campaign has reached the point of no return.
A defeat at Dinamo Banco di Sardegna Sassari in Italy on Thursday night, combined with a victory for Darussafaka Istanbul over Unicaja Malaga a day later, will mean Maccabi will miss out on the Top 16 for the first time ever.
CSKA Moscow, Malaga and Bamberg have all already qualified from Group D, leaving Maccabi and Darussafaka to fight it out for the fourth and final berth to the next round.
Maccabi dropped to a 1-6 record with last week’s loss at Malaga and trails Darussafaka by two games with three games to play. Following Thursday’s game against Sassari, the yellow-andblue hosts Brose Baskets Bamberg before visiting Darussafaka to cap its regular season campaign.
For that game to mean anything for Maccabi, Zan Tabak’s team will have to enter it no more than one game behind the Turks.
Should Maccabi win its final three games and Darussafaka lose all of its remaining contests, Tel Aviv will advance. The yellowand- blue can also progress should it end the regular season with the same record as the Turks, as long as it beats Darussafaka by more than 11 points to claim the tiebreaker after losing their first meeting of the season at Yad Eliyahu 84-73.
Sassari is still searching for its first win of the regular season, dropping to 0-7 with last week’s 93-87 defeat to CSKA Moscow.
The Italians are one of the worst defensive teams in the competition, allowing 85.7 points per game, but Maccabi, which beat Sassari 79-63 at the end of October for its only win in the competition to date, is only marginally better (83.9 ppg).
“Right now the players feel really without confidence and really down,” said Tabak. “There are players on the team that are desperate because they are frustrated that they can’t play to expectations.
Their expectations and the expectations of the team.”
Tabak admitted at being surprised by the magnitude of the crisis and said no one should be expecting any miracles as he’s not “Harry Potter.”
“Looking from the outside, you can see the video and you can speak to people around the team, but until you talk to the players and don’t see what is going on day after day you don’t see exactly what the problems are,” explained Tabak. “I’m not concerned about Sassari. After the last game I’m concerned about us.”