New Maccabi Tel Aviv coach Ainars Bagatskis halted yesterday’s training session ahead of tonight’s State Cup quarterfinal against Ironi Ness Ziona as he wasn’t pleased with the attitude of his players..
(photo credit: ADI AVISHAI)
Maccabi Tel Aviv continues its quest for an eighth straight State Cup triumph when it visits Ironi Ness Ziona of the National League in the quarterfinals on Monday night.
Maccabi’s last loss in the cup came against Ironi Nahariya in the last 16 back in December 2008, but it enters Monday’s game at one of its lowest points in recent years.
The yellow-and-blue, which is aiming to join the first two semifinalists Hapoel Jerusalem and Maccabi Ashdod, suffered a record sixth consecutive loss in the Euroleague at Baskonia Vitoria on Thursday in what was Ainars Bagatskis’s continental debut.
The Latvian became the fourth different coach to guide Maccabi in the Euroleague this season, and the club is hoping to get the new year off on the right foot after a nightmare 2016, which ended with seven losses in 11 games over all competitions in December.
“In our past two training sessions we worked on stabilizing our game,” said Bagatskis on Sunday. “Good defense starts from smart offense. We need to play fast basketball, but we also must control our emotions.
We will introduce some new things in offense and defense, but we mainly need to stabilize the team.”
Maccabi and Ness Ziona met in last season’s semifinals when Ness Ziona was still in the BSL.
After a rocky start to its campaign, Ness Ziona, which knocked out Nahariya of the BSL in the previous round, leads the second division with an 8-4 record, winning five of its past six games.
Bagatskis won’t be taking Ness Ziona lightly, especially after having to stop Sunday’s training session.
“We trained intensely for an hour and 35 minutes but then the players started to mess around so I stopped the session,” explained Bagatskis.
“I want us to train intensely for two hours at a time within two weeks. I believe that good practices lead to good games and good results.”
Ashdod moved within one win of reaching a second straight cup final after defeating Maccabi Haifa 95-90 on Sunday.
A 13-2 run to end the first half put Ashdod in the driving seat (50-38), only for Haifa to close within one possession (74-71) with less than seven minutes to play. The hosts never lost the lead though, going on a late 7-0 run (94-84) to secure the win.
Jake Cohen and Daniel Ewing each scored 22 points for Ashdod, while Will Graves led Haifa with 21 points.
The final semifinalist will be decided in Tuesday’s game between Hapoel Beersheba of the National League and Hapoel Holon.
In other basketball news, Hapoel Tel Aviv parted ways with coach Sharon Avrahami on Sunday. Hapoel fell to 6-6 in the BSL with Thursday’s 82-77 loss to Maccabi Haifa and was knocked out by Jerusalem in the cup round of 16 last weekend.