maccabi tel aviv wisniewski 248.88.
(photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
Maccabi Tel Aviv will aim to strengthen its position at the top of Euroleague Group C on Thursday night with a win over Greece's Maroussi BC at the Nokia Arena.
Maccabi climbed to first position in the group with a 92-90 overtime win at Lottomatica Roma two weeks ago, improving its record to 3-1 on the season.
Tel Aviv has also won all five of its BSL games in convincing fashion, defeating the previously unbeaten Hapoel Gilboa/Galil on Sunday. Maroussi, on the other hand, has won just one of its four Euroleague games to date and is 2-2 in Greek league play, losing 90-73 to Panathinaikos on Sunday.
"We picked up good momentum with the win in Roma, so I hope the one-week break won't stop it," Maccabi coach Pini Gershon said. "We want to finish the first round of games with a win to cap a very good start of the season, but in order to do that we'll need to be focused for 40 minutes."
Despite Maroussi's poor start to the regular season, Gershon has no intention of taking the Greek opponent lightly.
"I don't see Maroussi as a team with just one win so far, because I also look at the qualifying round results and see that they knocked out two Euroleague clubs - Aris and Alba - and for me it shows how dangerous they can be," he said.
"They have size and their guards can be dangerous. I just hope the fact that they got their only win in their only road game doesn't say anything about what will happen on Thursday."
Maroussi has four players who average double-figures, with Kostas Kaimakoglou leading the way with 17 points per game.
Jamon-Alfred Lucas (13.3 ppg), Dimitrios Mavroeidis (12 ppg) and Jared Hamon (10.5 ppg) also pose an offensive threat, but the Greeks will have little chance of winning unless they improve their rebounding.
Maroussi is currently last in the Euroleague in rebounding (27.5 rpg), with Maccabi second only to Unicaja Malaga with an average of 34.8 rebounds per game.
"Maccabi has improved compared to last season, because they have more athletic skill and options," Maroussi coach Georgios Bartzokas said.
"It's going to be exciting for our team to play at Nokia Arena and our target is to stay competitive and get as much as we can from the game. In such a game you can try and mold your character."
While Maccabi may be winning almost all its games, it is doing so with no significant Israeli contribution.
The imminent departure of young Israeli playmaker, Gal Mekel, has highlighted the ever-shrinking role locals are playing in the team's success.
Guy Pnini has been playing most among Tel Aviv's Israeli-born players, despite only averaging 10 minutes per game.
Eight foreign-born players average more time on court than Pnini, but perhaps his season-high 19 points against Gilboa on Sunday will persuade Gershon to give him a bit more of a chance on Thursday.
"We can't underestimate any team we face in the Euroleague. Maroussi proved to be the best team in Greece other than the two giants, and that shows how dangerous they can be," Pnini said.
"We need to focus on ourselves and give our fans what they have got used to seeing from us so far - tough and aggressive defense but also a lot of points.
"The win in Roma gave us a lot of confidence, and week by week things start to look better for us. I hope we'll bring that to the court and get another key win in the group in front of our fans."
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