Maccabi Tel Aviv's Malcolm Thomas 370.
(photo credit: Adi Avishai)
There were very few similarities between Maccabi Tel Aviv’s first two Euroleague
games of the season.
However, Maccabi coach David Blatt will not be too
concerned about that considering the outcome of both games was identical, with
the yellow-and-blue claiming wins against its main rivals in Group B to open its
Tel Aviv snatched a 70-68 victory over Montepaschi Siena at
Nokia Arena last week thanks to a Ricky Hickman basket with four seconds to
play, outscoring the Italians 8-0 in the final two minutes.
failed to repeat its impressive showing from the previous week’s road victory
over Unicaja Malaga, but it still managed to win its Euroleague home opener for
a 14th straight season, a week after triumphing in its road opener in the
competition for the first time since 2004.
It should therefore come as
little surprise that Maccabi enters Thursday night’s encounter at Euroleague
debutant Chalon-Sur-Saone as a firm favorite.
Chalon claimed its
first-ever French championship last season and just missed out on opening its
Euroleague campaign 2-0, being edged 74-71 at Alba Berlin last week after
beating Prokom Gdynia in its opener.
“We’re full of ambition as we head
out to what will be a tough away game.” said Blatt.
“We’re well aware
that Chalon is a strong team at home and is coming off wins in the French
“The feeling within the team is that we’re up for any
“We know that if we play right, and play with all our heart,
we can do it.”
The undoubted leader of Chalon is point guard Steed
Tchicamboud, who is averaging 18 points, 5.5 assists and 4.5 rebounds per game,
playing a Euroleague high 37:58 minutes per contest.
Besides the French
playmaker, Chalon is dependent on the play of three Americans, forward Blake
Schilb (13.5 ppg, 4 apg, 4 rpg), guard Brion Rush (12 ppg) and center Shelden
Williams (11 ppg, 11 rpg).
While three of Chalon’s players average more
than 32 minutes on court through the team’s first two encounters, David Logan
leads Maccabi with just 30:40 minutes per game.
Logan has settled quickly
at the club, as have fellow new boys Ricky Hickman and Malcolm
Sylven Landesberg is one of the yellow-and-blue’s new names who
have yet to make a real impression, but that has done nothing to dampen his
enthusiasm ahead of Thursday’s game.
“Coach told us that they’re a very
good team; we can’t sleep on them,” said Landesberg.
“We’ve just got to
come prepared, so we’ve been working hard and just trying to get ready for this
“We need to continue playing good defense, and we need to just
continue to finish on offense, executing our plays and finishing our
opportunities when we get them.”