Yellow-and-blue braces for visit from Red Star Belgrade

Seven defeats from its past eight games have seen Maccabi fall to 14th place and a 6-11 record, three games back of Darussafaka in eighth position, which leads to the quarterfinal playoffs.

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January 19, 2017 00:33
1 minute read.
After leading Maccabi Tel Aviv in scoring in its past two BSL games, Gal Mekel is hoping to finally

After leading Maccabi Tel Aviv in scoring in its past two BSL games, Gal Mekel is hoping to finally star in the Euroleague tonight at home against Red Star Belgrade. (photo credit: UDI ZITIAT)

Maccabi Tel Aviv is running out of time and games to resurrect its Euroleague campaign, lending additional importance to its remaining regular season contests, starting with Thursday’s showdown with Red Star Belgrade at Yad Eliyahu Arena.

Seven defeats from its past eight games have seen Maccabi fall to 14th place and a 6-11 record, three games back of Darussafaka in eighth position, which leads to the quarterfinal playoffs.

David Blatt’s Darussafaka is tied with seventh-place Red Star at 9-8, and Maccabi needs to make up ground as soon as possible to remain in contention for a place in the playoffs.

Maccabi, which still has 13 more regular season games to play, has an ideal opportunity to kick-start its campaign with three games over the next eight days. The contest against Red Star will be followed by a visit to lowly Galatasaray (5-12) in Istanbul next Tuesday before Unics Kazan (7-10) comes to Tel Aviv two days later.

Maccabi also faces Hapoel Tel Aviv in the derby in BSL action on Saturday.

Galatasaray and Kazan are two of the teams Maccabi has managed to beat this season, but the yellow-and-blue’s first meeting against Red Star was arguably its lowest point of the season.

Maccabi was thrashed 83-58 last month in coach Rami Hadar’s final game at the helm. “This was one of the most humiliating night’s the club has experienced in recent years,” said Hadar following the game, hours before handing in his resignation. A 14-2 Red Star surge to finish the first half gave the hosts an 18-point gap (42- 24), which crossed 30 points midway through the third quarter.

Red Star entered the season with low expectations, but has won five of its past six games, including over Real Madrid and CSKA Moscow, to climb into the top eight. The key for the Serbs has been their defensive play, allowing opponents no more than 73 points in their past six games, including the one defeat at Olympiacos.

Red Star has only allowed 73.6 points per game on the season, which is the Euroleague’s second- best. Maccabi, meanwhile, has allowed 84.2 points per game, conceding at least 80 points in its past eight encounters.


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