Yellow-and-blue seeks victory at Siena

Mac TA coach Blatt is confident his team will show no lasting effects from its first Euroleague defeat of the season.

November 23, 2012 02:10
2 minute read.
Maccabi Tel Aviv's Malcolm Thomas

Maccabi Tel Aviv's Malcolm Thomas 370. (photo credit: Adi Avishai)

Maccabi Tel Aviv coach David Blatt is confident his team will show no lasting effects from its first Euroleague defeat of the season last week when it visits Montepaschi Siena in Italy on Friday night.

Maccabi began its campaign with five straight victories, but a jaded performance saw it fall to a 64-62 defeat to Unicaja Malaga at Nokia Arena last Thursday, postponing its progress to the Top 16 by at least a week.

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Tel Aviv nevertheless remained top of Group B, holding the tiebreaker over Malaga after beating the Spaniards by five points on the road, but Blatt wants his team to win its remaining four regular season games to ensure that it will not require any favors to clinch first place in its group.

“These are not easy days for the residents of Israel, but we are professionals and we are focused on basketball,” said Blatt ahead of Maccabi’s departure for Italy on Wednesday.

“We won’t give up and we’re sure we can face any team out there and win. We want to finish in first place, and we certainly are capable of doing so.”

Tel Aviv edged Siena 70-68 when the teams met at Nokia Arena earlier this season, with the Italian powerhouse beginning its campaign 0-3.

However, Luca Banchi’s team has bounced back to claim three straight wins, including two roads victories over the past two weeks.

“Siena has improved a lot since our first game against them this season, and even then they gave us a hard time,” Blatt said. “Siena is an excellent team that is improving and finding its way. It will be a tough game, particularly on their home court, but we feel we are ready.”

Siena’s undoubted star over recent weeks has been Bobby Brown, who has averaged 27.3 points over the past three games.

After settling the ship, Banchi is hoping his team is about to hit top form, starting from Friday’s game against Maccabi.

“The game against Maccabi opens a cycle of three consecutive games against teams who we have already faced in the Euroleague or the Italian Super- Cup,” he said. “Our desire is to step up and compete.”

It may or may not have been related to the rocket siren that sounded in Tel Aviv three hours before the start of last week’s game against Malaga, but Maccabi registered its worse offensive game of the season in the loss, shooting just 31.5 percent from the field.

Devin Smith scored just four points on 2-of-9 from the field against Malaga, but is optimistic the yellow-and-blue will rebound against Siena on the road.

“We’re still in first place, and that’s great, but we need to get this win in Siena,” Smith said.

“We had a tough game against them in the first round, and our offensive game last week against Malaga wasn’t the best, so we need to get back to winning.”

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