maccabi TA 88.
(photo credit: )
Maccabi Tel Aviv visits Polish champions Prokom Trefl Sopot on Thursday night in week eight of Group B, hoping to sustain its momentum from last week's win at Winterthur FC Barcelona.
Tel Aviv will try and win consecutive games in the Euroleague for the first time this season and will hope for a repeat performance from Barcelona.
Maccabi played its best game of the season against the Catalans, leading throughout the game and eventually securing its first away win in the Euroleague this season.
The yellow-and-blue displayed the team play that their fans have been accustomed to in the last couple seasons and outplayed the Catalans for most of the game.
Tel Aviv's opponents on Thursday may not have the reputation of Barcelona, but Prokom Trefl may prove to be just as dangerous as the Spaniards.
The Poles have lost their last four Euroleague games, but all four of the games were close affairs with Prokom only losing by an average of seven points.
Both teams won their league games over the weekend and between them have only lost one league game (Maccabi (7-0) and Prokom (11-1)).
Maccabi beat Prokom Trefl by 27 points at the Nokia Arena in the first game of the Euroleague season, but this time around the yellow-and-blue will be pleased with any type of victory.
Prokom Trefl is built around three main players, Hungarian playmaker Istvan Nemeth (9.5 pointes per game and 2.5 assists per game), Polish forward Adam Wojcik (12.5 ppg and 4.2 rebounds per game) and above all, relentless Slovenian forward Goran Jagodnik (15.4 ppg and 7 rpg).
Prokom reached all the way to Puerto Rico for shooter Christian Dalmau (9.8 ppg), who played last season for Hapoel Galil Elyon, hoping that he will take some scoring pressure off Jagodnik.
"It's not the ideal situation to play Maccabi after its win in Barcelona," said Polish coach Eugeniusz Kijewski. "But we are playing at home and we have the backing of our fans so we won't give up."
One more Israel veteran in Prokom is Tomas Pacesas (3.1 ppg, 3.1 rpg and .3.1 apg) who played in Maccabi Rishon Le Zion in the 1998-99 season. Pacesas missed the first game in Tel Aviv and could prove to be the difference on Thursday night.
Danish center Michael Andersen (8.4 ppg and 4.5 rpg) will have the tough job of slowing down Maccabi center Nikola Vujcic (14.7 ppg, 6.2 rpg and 5.0 apg).
Anderson is a pure center who uses his strength to score and his size to intimidate. Vujcic won't be scared by Anderson's size and the Dane will have the grueling mission of stopping the center who has been Maccabi's best player of the season so far.
The top gun, however, remains Jagodnik, a reliable scorer who has registered double figures in all his team's Euroleague games this season. Non-stop effort also makes Jagodnik a solid rebounder and Prokom's logical go-to guy when it matters most.
The Poles are among the worst teams in the Euroleague in several notable statistical categories, including free throw shooting (64.3 percent) and turnovers (15).
Prokom is the fourth best offensive rebounding team in the league with 10.6 offensive rebounds a game, Maccabi, on the other hand, is last in the league with a meager 6.4 offensive rebounds per game.
If the Poles can dominate Tel Aviv under the baskets and get a lot of second chance points they may be able to surprise the yellow-and-blue and force a close game.
One of the keys to Maccabi's win last week was a breakout game by swingman Tal Burstein (8.1 ppg.), who played all but one minute and responded with a season-high 24 points.
Burstein followed that up with 22 points in a domestic win and was optimistic of getting a win in Poland.
"We want to continue what we began in Barcelona," said Burstein at the airport before flying out to the game. "We need to play with confidence and maintain the team's stability.
"In Barcelona the entire team played well and was aggressive on defense and offense. In previous games we lacked intensity, but against Barcelona we fought for every ball and we hope it will continue against Prokom."