Yellow-and-blue optimistic ahead of Milano challenge

Maccabi Tel Aviv aims to get back on track.

November 2, 2017 03:30
1 minute read.
Maccabi Tel Aviv guard Norris Cole is aiming to bounce back from his six-point performance against R

Maccabi Tel Aviv guard Norris Cole is aiming to bounce back from his six-point performance against Red Star Belgrade when the yellow-and-blue hosts Olimpia Milano tonight in Euroleague action.. (photo credit: ADI AVISHAI)

After falling back to .500 in the Euroleague with two losses over three days last week, Maccabi Tel Aviv aims to get back on track when it hosts Olimpia Milano at Yad Eliyahu Arena on Thursday night.

Maccabi had opened its continental campaign with two straight wins for the first time since 2012. But defeats to Olympiacos at home and to Red Star Belgrade in Serbia leaves it with a 2-2 record.

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Tel Aviv returned to winning ways in local action on Monday, beating Maccabi Haifa 83-62 to improve to 4-0 in the BSL.

“I feel that my team is in shape and will be able to play better basketball and take another step in front of our crowd,” said coach Neven Spahija.

Milano comes in with a 1-3 record, but that is mainly a result of its tough schedule.

The Italians, coached by Simone Pianigiani who guided Hapoel Jerusalem last season, have suffered defeats on the road at two of the competition’s strongest teams, CSKA Moscow and Real Madrid, while losing at home to defending champion Fenerbahce.

Milano finally got off the mark last week with a home win over Barcelona.

American guard Andrew Goudelock, who played for Maccabi last season, is Olimpia’s top scorer, averaging 15.3 points per game so far.

“From my experience, I know that players playing against their former teams are extra motivated, but why, I really don’t know,” noted Spahija. “For me as a coach, when I am facing a team where I was already coach, I am playing with the same motivation.

I always want to win against everybody, everywhere.”

Pianigiani played down his team’s chances.

“We’re going to play in a very tough place against a team with the typical skills of a Maccabi team,” he explained. “Their ability to play uptempo and run the floor will be enhanced by the atmosphere they can create at home. To stay in the game, the mental side of the game will be the most important one. We are not healthy or particularly brilliant, but it’s the mental game that I will care the most about.”

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