Mac aims for 1st signature post-Farmar win

Real Madrid, which also lost NBA stars, will be toughest task yet for yellow-and-blue.

Jordan Farmar 311 bball R (photo credit: Reuters)
Jordan Farmar 311 bball R
(photo credit: Reuters)
Maccabi Tel Aviv will face its first real test since the departure of Jordan Farmar when it visits Real Madrid in a battle for first place in Euroleague Group C on Thursday night.
Farmar, who led the team in points, rebounds, assists, steals and minutes through its first seven Euroleague games, could not help Maccabi avoid defeat in his final showing for the team, with Partizan Belgrade snapping the yellow-andblue’s five-game continental winning streak with a 74-71 win last week.
Maccabi has so far managed without Farmar, winning its games in the Adriatic League and BSL.
However, Real Madrid on the road presents a completely different proposition for David Blatt’s men.
Madrid has won three straight Euroleague games to improve to 5-2 and is tied with Maccabi atop Group C.
In what was perhaps its best game of the season so far, Tel Aviv edged Real 88-82 at Nokia Arena at the beginning of November, with Farmar scoring 27 points.
Like Maccabi, Madrid will also be affected by the end to the NBA lockout, with Serge Ibaka and Rudy Fernandez to leave the team.
However, while Ibaka has already returned to the US, Fernandez is stuck in Spain because the Dallas Mavericks failed to file the necessary paperwork for him to travel and he may well play against Maccabi on Thursday.
Regardless, Real, which leads the Euroleague with an average of 87.9 points per game, has more than enough weapons to hurt Tel Aviv, something which Blatt is well aware of.
“We’ve played a few games now without Jordan Farmar, and we’re looking ahead at how to play with the team we’ve got now, and with a new signing in the future,” Blatt said.
“Real Madrid is a very strong team which was formed at the beginning of the season without Fernandez and Ibaka, though of course with them they’re even stronger.”
Blatt said Maccabi will take its time in bringing in a replacement for Farmar and that the club should have a little more money to spend on a new guard after being awarded $270,000 in compensation from Jeremy Pargo by a FIBA arbitrator, who ruled that the American had breached his contract with Tel Aviv.
Shortly after signing a new lucrative contract following a sensational first-season at the club, Pargo notified the team that he would like to opt out of the twoyear deal as he wants to play in the NBA.
“We don’t have any particular candidate to replace Farmar at the moment,” Blatt said.
“This isn’t an easy decision from several aspects and we will not rush into it because the team is doing relatively well as it is.
This is a time to be cautious and accurate because we have no room for mistakes.”
Even without Farmar, Madrid coach Pablo Laso knows Maccabi will not go down without a fight.
“It’s a game against a great team, with a solid identity, similar to the one of the team that played the Final Four last season,” Laso said.
“In the first game they showed all their qualities and their inside potential with Sofo. In the backcourt they also have great shooters, players who open the court and have great offensive danger. We will have to play fine defense to stop them.”
The undoubted surprise package at Maccabi so far this season has been Yogev Ohayon.
The 24-year-old guard agreed to join the yellow-and-blue in the summer, but after seeing how many other players Maccabi added to its backcourt, he asked to be released from his contract.
However, Ohayon was guaranteed that he will be given a chance to prove his worth and he has shocked everyone with the size of the role he has carved for himself at Maccabi.
Ohayon has started in six of Maccabi’s seven Euroleague games, averaging almost 18 minutes per game, the sixth most on the team.
His averages of 3.6 points, 3.7 rebounds and 3.3 assists don’t testify to his contribution to the side so far, but Blatt has put his faith in Ohayon and his responsibilities are only set to grow following Farmar’s departure.
“We are facing a crucial game for first place in our group without Farmar,” Ohayon said.
“I hope all of us will give just a bit more in the game, and we’ll get this important win. When Jordan was with us we got used to playing a certain way, but now we need to play differently.
Right now we’re just trying to get as many wins as possible and to play better and better.
“We’ve got a deep bench and every one of us will need to give that little bit extra.”