Maccabi Tel Aviv's Sofoklis Schortsanitis scores 370.
(photo credit: Adi Avishai)
After suffering its first home loss of the season to Laboral Vitoria, Maccabi
Tel Aviv will look to reignite its Euroleague campaign and edge closer to
clinching its place in the Top 16 when it travels to Red Star Belgrade on
Maccabi dropped to a 70-65 defeat to the Spaniards at
Nokia Arena last week, ending its four-game continental winning streak.
Nevertheless, the yellow-and-blue still sits in second place in Group D with a
4-2 record, one game behind Lokomotiv Kuban and one game ahead of Panathinaikos
With the best four teams from each regular season group
advancing to the next stage, Maccabi can effectively clinch its place in the Top
16 with a win on Thursday as that would open a three-game lead over the team in
fifth place with just three games remaining.
Maccabi struggled to an 83-
79 win over Hapoel Eilat in BSL action on Monday, but coach David Blatt was
simply delighted at clinching a victory after last week’s loss in the derby
against Hapoel Tel Aviv and the setback versus Vitoria.
“The win helped
settle the guys and allowed us to leave for Belgrade in a better mood,” said
Blatt. “Maccabi has played in Belgrade many times in the past and we recognize
the strength of their fans. It won’t be easy, but this is the type of game every
player looks forward to.”
Blatt had a heated exchange with David Blu
during the game against Eilat before also clashing with Tyrese Rice. However, he
insisted that the media made too much of the Blu incident, claiming that it was
similar to a parent shouting at his child.
The coach also had a one-on-one
conversation with Rice in Serbia on Wednesday and straightened out matters with
the guard, who chose to sit alone at the end of the bench during one of Blatt’s
sideline briefings instead of joining the team huddle.
James, who suffered with his back in the win over Eilat, should be fit to play
in Thursday’s game and he is hoping to help Maccabi finally overcome its
“We know what we need to do,” claimed James. “We are
Maccabi and we will take hits, but we always fight back and that is what we need
to do right now.”