After opening its Euroleague season with a disappointing defeat at Olimpia
Milano, Maccabi Tel Aviv is confident of getting off the mark when its hosts
Partizan Belgrade in its home opener at Nokia Arena on Thursday
After cruising in its first few BSL and Adriatic League games,
Maccabi looked lost for large periods of its encounter at Milano, getting
outhustled under the baskets and failing to hit free shots from beyond the
Maccabi was outrebounded 39-28 by the Italians, and despite the new
additions of scorers Jordan Farmar, Devin Smith and Jon Scheyer, struggled from
Tel Aviv was almost unstoppable from distance in the
first few weeks of the season, but hit just 21.4 percent (3 of 14) against
Milano, 15.4 percent (2 of 13) against Siroki in the Adriatic League two days
later before going 23.5 percent (4 of 17) against Ashkelon in the BSL on
Making matters even more worrying for Maccabi coach David Blatt
is the fact that when you remove the threepointers attempted and made by David
Blu, his team has only scored an abysmal 6.0 percent (2 of 33) of its shots from
beyond the arc in its last three games.
“It is important for us to score
well from the perimeter and I believe we will do so again,” said Blatt, who has
to decide if, and how, to use new signing Keith Langford on Thursday.
28-year-old American led the Euroleague regular season in scoring last season
with 18.7 points per game, hitting 35.1percent of his three-point
“Every day that I continue to practice and play will just help me
more and more,” Langford said on Wednesday.
“If my name is called I’ll
get in there and play to the best of my ability.”
Blatt’s biggest concern
at the moment is his team’s defensive play after last week’s poor showing in the
89-82 defeat in Italy.
Maccabi’s suffocating defense was one of the main
reasons it progressed to the Euroleague final last season, and despite the
departure of several key defensive weapons in Jeremy Pargo, Doron Perkins and
Chuck Eidson, Blatt believes his team is capable of guarding its opponents much
better than it did last Thursday.
“You cannot think you can win a game on
the road when you allow your opponents 89 points,” Blatt said.
night when our offense did not work so well, with too many turnovers and a bad
shooting percentage from long-distance, defense became crucial. We have a lot of
work to do.
“Partizan is a good basketball team which knows what it’s
doing,” Blatt added. “We need to force Belgrade to play the way we want them to
play and not allow them to dictate their style. They have some good target
players, which makes our mission extremely difficult.”
At least Blatt
knows that if all else fails he can rely on Blu’s proficiency from long range,
with the forward hitting 15 of 24 three-pointers to date.
“Partizan is an
excellent team and we’re preparing for the game very seriously,” Blu said. “I
have no doubt that we’ll be as ready as it’s possible to be.
loss last week in Milan, we really can’t allow ourselves to lose another game,
especially not at home in Nokia Arena. We’ll be coming into the game extremely
focused in order to win, and also in order to get the fans
After being rested in Maccabi’s last two games due to a
strained groin muscle, Jordan Farmar will be back in action for Tel Aviv on
“I think I made Jordan play too many minutes to start the
season and that was my mistake,” Blatt admitted.
“We gave him four days
off to recover and we saw how much the team missed him.
“We decided not
to risk him and we hope he will feel well enough to play on
Maccabi’s players will be coming up on Thursday against former
teammate Milan Macvan, who joined Belgrade on loan just last week. Macvan teams
up in the paint with Minnesota Wolves center Nikola Pekovic, who has joined
Partizan until the NBA lockout ends, giving the Serbians a deadly duo that can
hurt any side.
“I know that Macvan will be ready for this game and will
want to prove himself,” Blu said. “He’s a great player and I’m happy for him
that he’s now playing for a team where he’s likely to get more playing
Meanwhile, it seems that Omri Casspi is moving closer to agreeing
a deal to join Maccabi Tel Aviv should the NBA lockout continue.
end of August, Casspi announced that he would not be joining Maccabi due to
However, with still no end in sight to the lockout,
and with offers from the likes of Spartak St. Petersburg and France’s Asvel
Basket Lyon Villeurbanne still not coming to fruition, Casspi renewed talks with
Maccabi and has reportedly agreed to play for the team should the entire NBA
season be lost to the lockout.
“I don’t know if there’s an official
agreement, but I’ve already said that the door at Maccabi is always open for
Caspsi,” Blatt said. “If Omri ends up playing here that would be a blessing.”