Maccabi Tel Av iv guard Pierre Jackson hopes to build on his excellent display against Hapoel Jerusalem when the yellowand- blue hosts Valencia tonight in Euroleague action at Yad Eliyahu Arena..
(photo credit: UDI ZITIAT)
With arguably its most difficult stretch of the Euroleague regular season to start next week, Maccabi Tel Aviv will be desperate to move three games over .500 for the first time this season when it hosts Valencia at Yad Eliyahu Arena on Thursday night.
Maccabi, which has a 6-4 record, visits CSKA Moscow and Panathinaikos and hosts reigning champion Fenerbahce over a seven-day stretch starting from next Friday.
Valencia (3-7) is far from a pushover, but it enters the contest on the back of a six-game losing streak in the competition and Maccabi can scarcely afford to be the team against which the Spaniards get back on track.
“I think we are going to face a very difficult opponent,” said Maccabi coach Neven Spahija, who guided Valencia between 2008 and 2010.
“Valencia has some problems with injured players but it doesn’t mean anything to us. We will not change anything in our preparations and we’ll approach the game like they are coming with a full roster.We want to continue the way we have started. Lately we are playing good basketball and everybody is healthy.”
Maccabi will likely need to dominate the boards to claim the win, with the yellow-and-blue leading the competition in rebounding (39.4 rpg), while Valencia is second to last (32.4 rpg).
One of the main reasons behind Maccabi’s excellent rebounding has been the play of Jonah Bolden. After initially struggling to settle at the club, Bolden has averaged 7.4 rebounds over the past five Euroleague games, while also grabbing 12 boards in Sunday’s emphatic BSL win over Hapoel Jerusalem.
“He is showing every day more and more of his ability,” said Spahija of the 21-year-old Australian. “I know why we signed him and he has shown it in the last couple of games.”
One of Maccabi’s main goals on Thursday will be to slow down Valencia playmaker Fernando San Emeterio.
“Valencia is coming here for a fight and they are trying to win just like we are,” said Maccabi forward Michael Roll. “San Emeterio is a very good player. Everybody knows who he is, he’s been doing it a long time. He’s very talented and a key piece to their team. We will be ready for him.”