Maccabi Tel Aviv guard Ricky Hickman 370.
(photo credit: Adi Avishai)
Maccabi Tel Aviv coach David Blatt is hoping the shock BSL defeat to Hapoel Tel
Aviv will prove to be a blessing in disguise when the yellow-and-blue visits
Fenerbahce Ulker in another must-win Euroleague Top 16 showdown on Thursday
Maccabi saw its 15-game BSL winning streak snapped on Sunday with
its first defeat in the derby in nine years, losing 69-65 to its
The humbling loss came three days after Maccabi revived its
Top 16 campaign by beating Caja Laboral Vitoria 66-62 on the road to improve to
a 4-5 record in Group F.
The yellow-and-blue moved up to fifth place in
the standings with the win, but still has a mountain to climb to finish among
the group’s top four and progress to the quarterfinal playoffs.
more games to play in the group, Barcelona (8-1), Montepaschi Siena (7-2) and
Olympiacos (6-3) already all seem out of reach for Maccabi.
Tel Aviv only
trails fourth-placed Khimki Moscow (5-4) by a single game and hosts the Russians
next week. However, it will have to defeat Khimki by 22 points at Nokia Arena to
overturn its 88-67 loss in Russia and claim the tiebreaker. Assuming it fails to
do so, it effectively has a two-game gap to close on Khimki.
first, however, as all the calculations will be irrelevant should Maccabi fail
to defeat Fenerbahce on Thursday for its third straight continental
Fenerbahce has lost all hope of advancing after dropping to a 2-7
record with a loss to Siena last week, four days after announcing the sacking of
coach Simone Pianigiani.
Fener has one of the highest budgets in the
Euroleague, but despite leading the Turkish league, it has struggled throughout
its continental campaign.
Nevertheless, Blatt is wary of the threat posed
by the likes of Bojan Bogdanovic, who is the Top 16’s leading scorer with 21.3
points per game, and superb playmaker Bo McCalebb (12.9 PPG), although the
Maccabi coach is expecting a positive reaction from his roster after the derby
“Sometimes a disappointment or letdown can refocus the
players,” Blatt said ahead of the team’s departure for Istanbul on Wednesday
“We entered Sunday’s game after two very difficult weeks and
suffered a physical and mental drop. We need to get back to our best very
quickly, and if Tuesday’s training session is anything to go by, than we are
already back to our old selves.”
Maccabi thrashed Fener 91-73 when the
teams met at Nokia two months ago, the first of four straight defeats suffered
by the Turks to start the Top 16.
Fenerbahce has struggled especially on
the defensive end, allowing a Top 16-worse 89.8 points per game. Maccabi, on the
other hand, has limited opponents to just 62.8 points per game in its Group F
victories, and a similar defensive performance on Thursday would likely see the
team reach .500 for the first time in the Top 16.
“Fener built a roster
in the summer which it thought could make the Final Four,” Blatt
“Matters haven’t worked out for them in Europe, but they are in
first place in the Turkish league.
We know that if we don’t play at a
high level we will have a very tough time.
“The most important thing is
that we play with the same sharpness and energy that we displayed in our last
two Euroleague games. I think that if we win this game we can really start
thinking about reaching the quarterfinals.”