David Blatt 370.
(photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
It is not often that a local league game in the month of November takes on such importance at Maccabi Tel Aviv.
Amid reports that coach David Blatt will be fired if the yellow-and-blue loses a third straight game, Maccabi hosts Hapoel Eilat at Nokia Arena on Monday night.
The 70-65 defeat to Laboral Vitoria in the Euroleague on Thursday mounted the pressure on Blatt following the team’s continued struggles in the BSL. Tel Aviv is still well placed in continental competition with a 4-2 record, but its dismal displays in the Israeli league have turned up the heat on Blatt to an extent that a third loss in a week against Eilat could result in his axing, at least according to recent speculation.
Maccabi has gotten off to its worst-ever start in the BSL, losing two of its first three games before falling to 4-3 last week following a depressing 78-66 defeat to Hapoel Tel Aviv. Blatt’s position has been precarious ever since Maccabi dropped the league title to Maccabi Haifa in June, with the financial cost of sacking him believed to be one of the main reasons he remained at the helm for 2013/14.
However, the owners’ patience seems to be running out with the season not even two months old after a disastrous start to the campaign.
“This was a very tough week for us,” said team manager Nikola Vujcic on Friday. “But we can’t cry about it and must focus on improving the situation.
These are certainly tough times, but we are only in the beginning of November and we are not considering making any changes at this stage.”
Eilat enters the game on the back of two straight wins, improving to 5-2.
This week’s BSL action will begin with two games on Sunday. Maccabi Haifa, which has the best record in the league at 5-1, will be targeting its sixth straight win when it visits Ironi Ness Ziona. Haifa has triumphed by an average 16.7 points in its past three league games, while Ness Ziona has cooled off over the last few weeks following a blistering start to its first-ever top flight campaign. Ness Ziona had won four consecutive contests, beating Maccabi Tel Aviv, Hapoel Tel Aviv and Hapoel Jerusalem on the trot, but has since lost two games to Hapoel Gilboa/Galil and Barak Netanya.
Also Sunday, Gilboa hosts Netanya.
On Monday, Hapoel Jerusalem, which has won four of five games, visits the confident Hapoel Tel Aviv and Hapoel Holon hosts Maccabi Ashdod.
Maccabi Rishon Lezion welcomes Bnei Herzliya on Tuesday.