Maccabi Tel Aviv’s Alex Tyus .
(photo credit: ADI AVISHAI)
Friday night’s showdown with Real Madrid in the Spanish capital could have hardly come at a worst timing for the yellow-and-blue, which suffered a humbling 93-77 home defeat to Hapoel Jerusalem in BSL action on Monday.
Maccabi will welcome Sofoklis Schortsanitis back to the fold after he missed the game against Jerusalem, but Sylven Landesberg is still out injured, with a sick Brian Randle requiring an IV to take part in the defeat to Hapoel.
Further complicating matters is the fact that an already fatigued Yogev Ohayon was on court for 39 minutes, with Devin Smith looking exhausted after scoring 31 points in 29 minutes.
Maccabi’s roster had three days to rest and prepare for the showdown with Real, but that may well prove to be not enough considering its current state.
Maccabi’s hopes of repeating as Euroleague champion looked more realistic than ever two months ago when it defeated the previously unbeaten Real 90-86 at Yad Eliyahu Arena in a repeat of last season’s final.
Maccabi was tied with Real atop Top 16 Group E at 4-1 and went on to win a fifth straight game before losing three of its following four continental contests.
Tel Aviv returned to winning ways against Zalgiris Kaunas last week to improve to 7-4, but it hasn’t really impressed since the victory over Madrid, although it still holds a twogame lead over Alba Berlin in the battle for a top-four finish in Group E and a place in the quarterfinal playoffs.
Madrid suffered just its second defeat in the Top 16 at Panathinaikos last week and also fell to a surprising loss against Murcia in Spanish league action on Sunday.
Nevertheless, Real will be a firm favorite on Friday, with Maccabi coach Guy Goodes bracing himself for a difficult night.
“I’m worried about the fatigue and injuries,” said Goodes. “We are obviously prioritizing the Euroleague at the moment, but I haven’t managed to rest certain players. Real is entering the game after two straight defeats and we will need to be wary of them because this is a team with an excellent offense.
“If we play defense the way we did against Jerusalem, we could lose by 120 points. Nevertheless, we are entering this game with the aim of winning it.”