MACCABI TEL AVIV FORWARD Lior Eliyahu 311.
(photo credit: Adi Avishai)
Maccabi Tel Aviv visits Anadolu Efes Istanbul in the Euroleague on Thursday
night, hoping to prove that last week’s impressive victory over Real Madrid was
After an erratic start to its continental campaign, which
included a disappointing defeat at Olimpia Milano and an unconvincing home win
over Partizan Belgrade, Maccabi fired on all cylinders last week, beating an
extremely deep and balanced Real roster in a thrilling encounter at Nokia
The Spaniards had no answer to Maccabi’s offensive game-plan led
by Jordan Farmar, who superbly orchestrated his team’s play and earned Week 3
MVP honors by scoring 27 points on 10-of-12 from the field.
Schortsanitis ran amok under the basket, allowing David Blu and Devin Smith to
hurt Madrid from distance, while Maccabi also did an excellent job defensively,
limiting Real – which entered the encounter as the competition’s best offensive
team – to 40 percent from the field.
Efes presents Maccabi with another
stern test on Thursday, especially with the game being held in Istanbul amid the
current tense relations between Turkey and Israel.
Maccabi hired a
special security officer to coordinate the operations to maintain its safety in
Istanbul, but forward Lior Eliyahu is far more concerned with finding a way to
defeat a dangerous Istanbul team.
“I know Maccabi has taken care of the
security matters and we players prefer not to deal with things that are out of
our control,” said Eliyahu, who will be looking to bounce back from his two-point
performance against Madrid.
“We need to focus on the very difficult game
we face in Turkey. We are very fresh and hungry and I feel that we are going
through a good period. Hopefully, we can handle this difficult game and come
back home in one piece with a victory.”
Like Maccabi, Efes has also got a
2-1 record in Group C, although unlike Tel Aviv it has won both of its games on
the road, including in Milano last week, while losing its only home encounter so
far to Charleroi.
Istanbul has been led by Terence Kinsey (15.0 points
per game, 5.7 rebounds per game), Ersan Ilyasova (13.0 ppg, 6.3 rpg), who will
return to the Milwaukee Bucks when the NBA lockout ends, and Sasha Vujacic (12.7
ppg, 4.3 rpg), who after seven seasons in the NBA has returned to Europe on a
“This will be the first game at Sinan Erdem Arena in
front of our big crowd and we expect them to be our sixth player,” Vujacic said.
“Obviously we are going to play against a great team. It will be a tough game so
we have to find the way to protect our home court and record the
Vujacic, who is engaged to tennis superstar Maria Sharapova,
will meet an old friend on Thursday, having played with Farmar for four seasons
at the Los Angeles Lakers, as well as during the back end of last season at the
New Jersey Nets.
“We’ve spent a lot of time together, on and off the
court, in the past five seasons,” Farmar said. “Sasha is a terrific player, a
pure shooter; he was the shooting guard while I was the point guard.
played a big part in the Lakers’ success during those great years.
really happy that he joined us last season at the Nets, and it’s going to be fun
to see him this week. I’m sure we’ll sit down and exchange memories and
experiences. But on the court on Thursday, I’ll forget that he’s my friend and
do everything I can to help Maccabi get another win.”
Despite its overall
superb play against Madrid, Maccabi continued to struggle from three-point
Tel Aviv has made the fewest three pointers in the competition
after three games with a total of just 13 out of 48 attempts (27 percent), but
coach David Blatt can at least draw some encouragement from the fact that
Maccabi has turned the ball over fewer times than any other Euroleague team with
only 24 turnovers so far this season.
“The game against Real was amazing
on both ends of the court,” Blatt said.
“Both teams were excellent and so
is the team we are facing on Thursday. I’m hoping for a similar game in Istanbul
and hopefully we will have the upper hand once more.”