Yellow-and-blue has opportunity to quash Barca jinx

November 23, 2017 00:55
1 minute read.
Maccabi Tel Aviv forward Jonah Bolden

Maccabi Tel Aviv forward Jonah Bolden has finally settled at the team after an erratic start, averaging 10.0 points and 7.3 rebounds over the past three Euroleague game ahead of tonight’s encounter with Barcelona in Spain.. (photo credit: ADI AVISHAI)

Maccabi Tel Aviv looks to end one of its longest Euroleague droughts when it visits Barcelona on Thursday night.

The yellow-and-blue hasn’t won in Barcelona since 2005 when it was the two-time defending European champion, a losing streak of seven games.

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Maccabi has experienced little joy against the Catalans in any venue over recent years, losing 11 of 12 meetings dating back to 2009.

Tel Aviv is coming off a 77-69 road win against Khimki Moscow which took it to a 5-3 record, tied for third place in the standings and just one game back of leaders CSKA Moscow and Olympiacos.

Barcelona has a 3-5 record and is aiming to string together two straight Euroleague wins for the first time this season. Barca won for just the second time in seven continental contests when it beat Valencia 89-71 last week.

The Catalans are 3-2 at home this season, on the one hand overcoming Panathinaikos, Olympiacos and Valencia by an average 19.0 points per game, but on the other suffering humbling losses to Efes Istanbul and Zalgiris Kaunas. The team’s erratic play so far this season was never more evident than in the 84-81 loss to Brose Bamberg last week. Barcelona led by as many as 26 points, only to eventually fall to a defeat in Germany.

Barcelona uses a wide rotation in which only one player (Adam Hanga) averages more than 24 minutes per game. Only two of its players are averaging double-digits in points, Kevin Seraphin (14.5 ppg) and Thomas Heurtel (10.0 ppg). Maccabi, on the other hand, has four players who average between 24 and 28 minutes (Michael Roll, Deshaun Thomas, Norris Cole and Pierre Jackson), with all four also scoring in double-figures.

Maccabi will likely need to dominate the boards to have a chance of winning, with the yellow- and-blue the top rebounding team in the competition (39.9 rpg), while Barcelona is last in offensive boards (6.6 rpg).

“Barcelona is a very good team,” said Maccabi coach Neven Spahija. “They have been inconsistent, but they have talent and are playing at home. In their last game they beat Valencia easily, but we have had three days to prepare which is a lot for us and we are going to take advantage of that.”

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