Maccabi Tel Aviv Chuck Eidson 311.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Maccabi Tel Aviv will look to prove its impressive performances in the past week
were no coincidence when it visits Partizan Belgrade on Thursday
Maccabi defeated Zalgiris Kaunas 86- 70 in the Euroleague last
week before crushing Hapoel Jerusalem 75-55 on Sunday to reassert its dominance
over the BSL.
Mac TA humbles Hapoel with 20-point rout
Yellow-and-blue nets first Euroleague W
However, no one on the team has forgotten the 94-78
thrashing at the hands of Caja Laboral Vitoria two weeks ago, a bitter memory
which will only be dispelled with a first continental road victory.
has seemingly changed since the loss in Vitoria, with Maccabi establishing
itself in the past two weeks as a team which takes pride in its defense and
scores much of its points on the fastbreak.
An away win in Serbia will
raise optimism levels at Tel Aviv even further, but coach David Blatt remains
wary of Partizan and is preaching for patience.
“We have to come to the
game sharp and ready,” Blatt said. “We need to defend very well and not turn
over the ball too much. The level of basketball in Serbia is excellent, and
Partizan has a marvelous tradition.
“We need to play a lot better than
they do in order to win, because they have a huge advantage playing on their
home court with their fantastic fans, who remind me of our own.
fans really contribute a lot to their team, and have an influence on their
opponent and sometimes on the referees.”
Partizan eliminated Maccabi in
four games in the Euroleague quarterfinal playoffs last season, but coach Dusko
Vujosevic has since left for CSKA Moscow and only two Belgrade starters from
that series – Dusan Kecman and Jan Vesely – remain with the
“They’re a fairly new team, but a strong one,” Blatt noted. “The
new players are fitting in well with their club. Their center, Jawai, has a
build similar to that of Schortsanitis. It’s going to be very
Partizan lost 73-62 at Zalgiris in its Euroleague opener,
but rebounded with a 72-68 home victory over BC Khimki last
However, the Serbs have since lost to Ljubljana in the Adriatic
League and coach Vlade Jovanovic is hoping his team will return to winning ways
“After our victory last week, we didn’t succeed to keep
the level and quality of our play in the Adriatic League defeat in Ljubljana,”
“Our ambitions are bigger after last week in the
Euroleague, but I need to be modest when our plans and future games come to
question. Maccabi has a new team with a new coach, same as Partizan. They have
new ambitions and they will be motivated because of last season’s elimination
from the competition by our team. I am sure that fact will be crucial for
motivating their players for this match.
“We will give our maximum and
more to make a good impression and get the result. For sure we will be brave on
the court, and this will be a chance to see how far we can go in this Euroleague
Jovanovic will be hoping to slow down Sofoklis Schortsanitis,
who scored 24 points in 22 minutes last week, with his very own very big man
Nathan Jawai, who had 15 points, eight rebounds and two blocks last
Kecman and Vesely are two more players who will be given special
attention by the Maccabi defense, but Tel Aviv forward Guy Pnini is focused on
Partizan as a whole and is confident of returning to Israel with a
“We don’t have good memories of Belgrade, but what happened last
year is history,” Pnini said. “We’re starting over and we’re looking ahead. Most
of our players have dealt with pressure situations like this and we’re
professional enough to focus on the game and not on the crowd.
have been going well for us lately and I hope and believe that we will keep up
the momentum in Belgrade. We’ve come to Serbia to win.”On TV: Maccabi Tel Aviv at Partizan
Belgrade (live on Channel 10 at 9:45 p.m.)