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.
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
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.
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
“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.”