Maccabi Tel Aviv guard Andrew Goudelock (left) scored a team-high 22 points in last night’s 90-75 defeat to Darius Miller (right) Brose Bamberg in Euroleague action in Germany..
(photo credit: UDI ZITIAT)
Maccabi Tel Aviv remains in contention to qualify for the Euroleague quarterfinals, but Thursday’s game against Baskonia Vitoria of Spain at Yad Eliyahu Arena is first and foremost about momentum.
As disastrous as its season has been so far, Maccabi has yet to lose three straight games over all competitions, bouncing back from two consecutive losses with victories on four different occasions, usually with a win in local action.
With last week’s Euroleague loss at Brose Bamberg in Germany being followed by Sunday’s 74-63 defeat at Hapoel Jerusaleim in BSL action, Maccabi needs a win over Baskonia on Thursday to avoid another significant low in a season already packed with them.
Despite losing 10 of its past 12 Euroleague games, a dismal run of form stretching back to the start of December, Maccabi is still only three games back of Efes Istanbul in eighth place in the standings, which will lead to the playoffs at the end of the regular season.
But while Maccabi, which sits in 14th place out of 16 teams in the standings with a 7-14 record, still holds a theoretical chance of qualifying for the post-season, its main goal on Thursday will be to pick up some much-needed confidence ahead of the decisive stages of the State Cup next week.
The yellow-and-blue faces Maccabi Ashdod in the cup semifinals on Monday in Jerusalem, with the winner to play either Hapoel Jerusalem or Hapoel Holon in Thursday’s final.
Baskonia will look to take advantage of Maccabi’s lack of depth under the basket the way Jerusalem did on Sunday, feeding Amar’e Stoudemire the ball time and again throughout the second half.
Stoudemire scored 18 of his game-high 24 points after the break, with Maccabi only having one true center in Colton Iverson following the release of Maik Zirbes.
Young Israeli Itay Segev played his first BSL game of the season against Jerusalem after a long injury lay off, but he has yet to find his rhythm and Maccabi is searching for another big man to bolster its roster. Maccabi agreed personal terms with former Maccabi Rishon Lezion center Darryll Monroe earlier this week, but his Turkish club Turk Telekom refused to release him and the deal fell through.
Maccabi lost 101-88 to Baskonia when the teams met in Spain at the end of December, and the Spaniards, which sit in seventh place with a 12-9 record, will be desperate to hand the yellow-and-blue its seventh home defeat of the campaign to remain on track for a place in the playoffs after losing four of their previous five games.