IRONI NESS ZIONA’S Preston Knowles 370.
(photo credit: BSL website)
David Blatt’s position as Maccabi Tel Aviv coach remains safe, but the fact the
question is even being raised just two weeks into the season testifies to the
mounting pressure on the club following a dismal start to 2013/14.
being surprised by Hapoel Holon in its BSL opener and losing at Laboral Vitoria
in its first Euroleague game, Maccabi hit a new low with Monday’s 72-71 defeat
at newly-promoted Ironi Ness Ziona.
Ness Ziona was playing just its third
game ever in the top flight, but it outhustled and outsmarted Maccabi, which for
the first time in club history has lost two of its first three local league
Blatt was quick to explain that the absence of Devin Smith, who
was rested ahead of Friday’s Euroleague showdown at Lokomotiv Kuban, combined
with Ricky Hickman’s lingering injury doomed his side’s chances.
even without two of last season’s best players, Maccabi should have easily
overcome Ness Ziona, which struggled to even meet the BSL’s minimum budget after
winning the National League championship last season.
improved to 1-1 in the Euroleague with last week’s 96-82 win over Red Star
Belgrade, already leaves for Kuban on Wednesday, with the Russians currently
leading Group D with a 2-0 record.
Maccabi then visits Hapoel
Gilboa/Galil in BSL action before facing Rytas Vilnius in another Euroleague
“We are not playing the way we should,” said Sofoklis
Schortsanitis, who was on court for just three minutes in Ness Ziona.
underestimated our opponent and paid the price for it. We need to play hard in
every game and that is something which we aren’t doing right now. This isn’t a
great way to be entering a road stretch, but we need to find the way to get back
Meanwhile, Hapoel Jerusalem and Maccabi Haifa will look to
continue their winning ways in the Eurocup on Wednesday.
Russian powerhouse Khimki Moscow at Malha Arena, hoping to improve to 3-0 in
Group E. Hapoel beat Bosnian champion Igokea Aleksandrovac on the road last week
and finally got a BSL win on Monday, defeating Hapoel Eilat 91-75.
dropped to a surprise home defeat to Romania’s Asesoft Ploiesti in its group
opener but rebounded with a road win at Lukoil Academic Sofia.
has made a good impression on me after its first two Eurocup games,” said Khimki
coach Rimas Kurtinaitis. “The team uses a lot of defensive options like David
Blatt’s system. This tactic often misleads the opponent, but we are ready for
Haifa visits VEF Riga after moving to 1-1 in Eurocup Group G with
last week’s win at MZT Skopje of Macedonia before picking up its first BSL
victory on Sunday, beating Maccabi Ashdod 90-84.
“Every game in the
Eurocup is a tough game, especially against a team which leads our group with a
2-0 record,” said Haifa coach Danny Franco. “It’s a big challenge for us, but we
are ready to travel to Riga and compete at that level.”
Eurocup group action: Hapoel Jerusalem vs Khimki Moscow (live on Sport 1
at 7 p.m.); VEF Riga vs Maccabi Haifa (live on Sport 2 at 7:25 p.m.)