Lior Eliyahu 311.
(photo credit: Associated Press)
After claiming its third straight Euroleague victory with an impressive win at
BC Khimki Moscow last week, Maccabi Tel Aviv comes up against an obstacle it has
yet to face this season when it hosts Prokom Gdynia at Nokia Arena on Thursday
With confidence levels sky high and the Polish champion entering
the encounter still winless in the Euroleague this season, Maccabi will have to
first and foremost ward off complacency to ensure Thursday’s game goes as
After recording comfortable victories over Zalgiris Kaunas and
Partizan Belgrade, David Blatt’s team showed last week that it also has the
temperament to win close games, with David Blu’s dramatic three-pointer giving
the yellow-and-blue a 78-76 victory in the Russian capital.
would have entered the game against Prokom as a firm favorite even without
taking recent form into account, something which is not lost on Blatt, who has
no intention of allowing his players to overlook their opponents on
“People are saying that this is supposed to be an easy game,
but that is the last thing we should be thinking,” Blatt said. “Prokom has had
some very good seasons in the Euroleague and it has five players with NBA
experience. Its record at the moment might not be so positive, but this is a
very dangerous team.
“We can’t afford to lower our intensity levels and
we must maintain the same hunger for winning.”
Despite beginning its
Euroleague campaign 0-4, Gdynia has not gone down without a fight, losing all of
its games by seven points or less.
Prokom, which reached the Euroleague
quarterfinals last season, has built its team around three Americans a
Its deep backcourt includes the likes of Dan Ewing (12.8 ppg) and
Bobby Brown (11.5 ppg), with swingman J.R.
Giddens (13.0 ppg, 6.3 rpg)
and bigman Ratko Varda (12.3 ppg) also extremely dangerous players Maccabi will
have to keep a close eye on.
“Maccabi won some important games against
Zalgiris, Partizan and last week with Khimki,” said Prokom coach Tomas Pacesas,
whose team’s biggest problem at the moment is the fact that it is shooting a
Euroleague low 41.9 percent from two-point range.
“They are in good shape
and play very good, athletic basketball. Our opponents are strong under the
basket and also outside, so it will be a very hard game for us. We have had a
few days to prepare ourselves for the game and we have to be really ready to
play against Maccabi.”
Perhaps the most notable aspect of Tel Aviv’s win
in Moscow was the fact that once more it did not need a standout solo
performance to clinch the conquest.
No Maccabi player currently averages
more than 30 minutes on court, with nine players averaging at least 15 minutes,
and each of them contributing their fair share to the team’s early-season
“I’m sure Prokom is entering this game with the hope of turning
its season around,” Blatt said. “However, the pressure is on us and we must
remember that we are not a great team and that we will only achieve success
through hard work.
“As long as we keep up that attitude we will play with
confidence, but once we don’t we can lose to any team.”
Perkins, who starred in the team’s win in Moscow, is hoping Maccabi can continue
its progress on Thursday.
“It is good to be back at home after two road
games,” Perkins said. “It is important we build on the momentum from our recent
victories. We have played pretty well so far and I hope we continue to improve