Hickman and James of Maccabi Tel Aviv 370.
(photo credit: Adi Avishai)
You would have thought that Maccabi Tel Aviv’s position in Euroleague Top 16
Group F would have become clearer with its fourth straight win on Thursday
However, Maccabi’s 80-79 victory over Khimki Moscow combined with
other results in the group, especially Olympiacos’s 68-67 win in Italy over
Montepaschi Siena, have further complicated the yellow-and-blue’s situation
with three more games to play in the Top 16.
Maccabi knows one thing for
sure. Should it win its next three games, it will finish among the group’s top
four and advance to the quarterfinals after claiming just two of its first seven
Maccabi improved to 6-5 with Thursday’s victory, with Khimki
and Caja Laboral Vitoria owning an identical record and Olympiacos and Siena one
game ahead on 7-4.
Tel Aviv visits Olympiacos next week before hosting
rock-bottom Besiktas (0-10) and ending its group games with a visit to
firstplaced Barcelona (10-1).
Maccabi lost to Olympiacos when the teams
first met this season at Nokia, but as the yellow- and-blue only fell by a
single point in Israel (78-77), it is set to claim the tiebreaker and overtake
the Greeks as long as it wins in Athens.
Tel Aviv, which already has a
better head-to-head record against Siena and Caja but not against Khimki, will
then host Besiktas in a game it should comfortably claim before visiting Barca.
The Catalans will have likely already wrapped up first place in the group by the
time Maccabi comes to town, which should at least ensure the yellow-and-blue has
an edge when it comes to motivation.
Two wins from its remaining three
games will see Tel Aviv advance should other results in the group go according
However, predicting results in Group F has so far proven to be
all but impossible and the only certainty at the moment seems to be that
Maccabi’s fate will be decided with the final buzzer of the Top 16.
are still far from securing our place in the quarterfinals,” said Maccabi coach
David Blatt, who received 30 points and one memorable dunk in the clutch from
guard Ricky Hickman on Thursday. “It is extremely difficult to win in Greece.
The win over Khimki does however open up the possibility that we can advance by
claiming any two of our next three games.”
In the meantime, Maccabi will
be looking to snap its two-game losing streak in the BSL when it visits Maccabi
Ashdod on Sunday night.
The yellow-and-blue suffered consecutive defeats
in local league play for the first time in almost five years with last week’s
76-70 loss to Barak Netanya. However, with first place in the BSL already
wrapped up and a visit to Olympiacos coming up, Blatt is set to once more rest
his stars as much as possible.
There will be a full slate of action on
Sunday ahead of Monday’s All- Star game in Haifa.
Also Sunday, Netanya
hosts Hapoel Tel Aviv, Hapoel Eilat visits Bnei Herzliya, Maccabi Haifa goes to
Ironi Ashkelon, Maccabi Rishon Lezion welcomes Hapoel Holon and Hapoel Jerusalem
plays Hapoel Gilboa/Galil at Malha Arena.