maccabi tel aviv 311.
(photo credit: AP)
Despite having wrapped up first position in Group A with two regular season
games to spare, Maccabi Tel Aviv coach David Blatt feels his team has plenty to
play for when it hosts BC Khimki Moscow at Nokia Arena on Thursday
Maccabi clinched first place in its group with a 76-62 win over
Partizan Belgrade last week, its seventh straight victory. But Blatt is
confident his players will give their all once more on Thursday, even though Tel
Aviv can already turn its focus to the start of the Top 16 on January
“We have three main reasons to win this game,” Blatt said. “Around
12,000 fans will be at the arena on Thursday and many more will be watching on
TV, so it is our obligation to do our best for them.
“We are also aware
of the fact that the result of this game is important to the other teams in the
group so we must try and win. And most importantly, we are a proud team and we
want to continue and play good and positive basketball the way we have done so
far in the Euroleague and BSL.”
Maccabi edged Khimki when they met last
month in Russia, winning 78- 76 thanks to a David Blu last-second game-winning
Khimki lost three of its next four continental games and
at 3-5 finds itself in a must-win situation on Thursday.
A loss at Nokia
could see the Russians lose all hope of advancing as early as Thursday night and
coach Sergio Scariolo is hoping his team will finally raise its level of play
away from home in Tel Aviv.
“Maccabi has deserved first place in the
group,” he said. “Our performances on the road haven’t been at the same level as
at home so far. We understand that now is the time to do it. We should raise the
concentration and the defensive level for all 40 minutes.
And we must
play our best game on the road to have a chance to reach the Top
Sofoklis Schortsanitis, Richard Hendrix and Guy Pnini are all
expected to shake off injuries and play on Thursday, but Blatt remains wary of
“Moscow has a very strong roster and in the Euroleague any team
can win on a given night,” he said. “They have had some ups and downs this
season, but with so many good players they will be a difficult team to beat.”