(photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
Such has been Maccabi Tel Aviv’s dominance in recent weeks that Barak Netanya
coach Eric Alfasi is first and foremost hoping his team can survive the first
quarter of Thursday night’s State Cup final at Nokia Arena.
believes Netanya can lift the cup for the first time in club history, but
understands the mammoth task his team faces.
“Every team that plays
Maccabi at Nokia seems to all but lose the game by the end of the first period,”
Alfasi said. “But we will not give up without a fight.
is the favorite, but we have recorded impressive wins in the cup this season and
we want to bring the trophy back to Netanya.”
Tel Aviv has won its last
four games in all competitions by an average 40.2 points, leading by an average
18.5 points at the end of the first quarter.
outscored Maccabi Ashdod 27-3 in the first 10 minutes of the semifinal on Monday
on the way to a 37- point win, and beat Netanya by a combined 62 points in two
BSL meetings this season.
Tel Aviv crushed Netanya 117-69 when the sides
met at Nokia in the league earlier this season, but coach David Blatt wants his
players to remember that when they last played less then three weeks ago,
Maccabi actually trailed 26-18 before cruising to a 14-point
“Netanya deserved to get to the final and we respect them for that,”
Blatt said. “We built the team in order to win these games and we will be ready
lift the cup for a second straight year.”
After surprising Hapoel
Jerusalem at Malha Arena in the quarterfinals, Netanya came back from 13 points
down in the fourth quarter to edge Hapoel Tel Aviv 78-77 in the semis.
owed its victory to Adrian Banks, who led his team to the dramatic win by
scoring 16 points in the final six minutes of the game.
“We want to win
the cup,” Maccabi forward David Blu said.
“A victory in the final can
give us a big boost for the remainder of the season. There is an amazing
atmosphere in the team following our recent results.
“We have gelled
together and everybody loves each other. We are not underestimating Netanya and
we know we will have to fight to win. They have already given us some trouble
this season and we need to show them respect.”
To make matters even more
complicated for Alfasi, Netanya has also struggled with its form in recent
weeks, losing seven of its past eight games in all competitions before getting
the better of Hapoel in the cup semis.
Nevertheless, Alfasi is confident
his team will not go down without a fight.
“We had an unpleasant
experience at Nokia earlier this season when Maccabi clinched the game early
on,” Alfasi said. “It is hard to find any aspect in which we have an advantage
over Maccabi, which has a budget 10 times larger than ours. We didn’t play our
best against Hapoel, but managed to pull out the win when it counted.
are not coming to the final just to make up the numbers.
We will give our
all, although that may not be enough because Maccabi is the clear favorite in
every aspect of the game and at every position.”On TV: State Cup Final
: Maccabi Tel Aviv vs Barak Netanya (live on Channel 1 at 8:30 p.m.)