Euroleague Basketball: Fast-paced attack key for Maccabi Tel Aviv at Avellino

"The game in Avellino will be our opportunity to show we can consistently play well," Pini Gershon says.

Maccabi TA 298.88 (photo credit: AP)
Maccabi TA 298.88
(photo credit: AP)
Maccabi Tel Aviv can all but clinch a Top-16 berth with a victory at Air Avellino in the Euroleague on Thursday. Tel Aviv returned to winning ways in Europe with an 88-83 win over Cibona Zagreb last week, but coach Pini Gershon is still struggling to cure the team's ills and was in a cautious mood ahead of Thursday's significant game in Italy. "The game in Avellino will be our opportunity to show we can consistently play well," Gershon said. "I hope we'll maintain the style of play we adopted in the last couple of games and not allow the Italians to force us to play in a different style." Gershon has been trying to help Maccabi score more points by playing up-tempo basketball and Thursday's encounter will likely be won by the team which succeeds in dictating its style of play. Maccabi (3-3) has won all three of its continental games in which it scored at least 80 points, while Avellino (2-4) has won both games in which it has held its opponent to less than 80 points. "Avellino is a strong home team, as Malaga realized a few weeks ago," Gershon said. "It will be a tough game, but we need this win to get us very, very close to securing our spot in the Top-16." Avellino's two victories to date have both come at home, against Malaga and Le Mans, but the team enters Thursday on the back of two consecutive losses and was thrashed 91-66 at Olympiacos last week. The Italian team, which is only placed in ninth position in the Italian league with a 4-5 record, lost 85-78 to a very strong Montepaschi Siena side on Sunday. But despite the defeat its Macedonian coach Zare Markovski is hoping his side can build on that performance. "We must play with the same intensity that we showed against Siena," he said. "This is the only way Avellino will be able to compete with Maccabi Tel Aviv. "We have to keep up a high level of concentration and defend hard for all 40 minutes. This game is like a playoff for us, but it's an important match for Maccabi too. They probably feel more pressure than we do." Chris Warren (18.5 ppg, 5.2 rpg), Eric Williams (10.8 ppg, 5.7 rpg), Tamar Slay (9.5 ppg, 4.7 rpg) and Travis Best (9.3 ppg, 3.7 apg) make-up the core of Markovski's team and Avellino can't win if they don't play to potential. "This win is very important for us," Maccabi forward Omri Casspi said. "It will open a big gap between us and Avellino in the standings and bring us closer to the Top-16. We must also gather momentum, and gain confidence towards the finish line of the regular season. "The best way to get there is with a road win, especially in a tough place like Avellino."