Mac TA looks for Top 16 berth

A win for Maccabi will officially book it a spot in the Top 16; Jordan Farmar’s swan song in yellow and blue.

Farmer 311 R (photo credit: Reuters)
Farmer 311 R
(photo credit: Reuters)
Jordan Farmar will be hoping to bid farewell to Maccabi Tel Aviv with a victory on Thursday night when the yellow-and-blue visits Partizan Belgrade in Euroleague action.
With the NBA lockout coming to an end last weekend, Farmar was already expected to return to the US earlier this week, but he eventually agreed to play for Maccabi one last time to try and help the team to what would be a crucial win in Serbia.
The departure of the New Jersey Nets guard will leave a massive void at Maccabi, with Farmar leading the team in points, rebounds, assists, steals and minutes in the Euroleague this season.
However, Tel Aviv will put aside the search for Farmar’s replacement for two hours on Thursday, hoping to see another sensational performance from the superb guard before he leaves for good.
“I’m excited,” Farmar said ahead of the team’s flight for Belgrade on Wednesday. “I’ve heard Partizan is a fun place to play. We’ve been winding down and saying our goodbyes to everybody for the last few days, and now we still have to handle business, to help Maccabi advance to the Top 16 and finish on the right note.
“I think it will be a good thing to get a big win on the road and go home with that.”
A win for Maccabi will officially book its place in the Top 16, and it will be especially crucial to Tel Aviv’s hopes of finishing top of its group and receiving a favorable draw in the next round.
Maccabi beat Olimpia Milano 85- 76 for its fifth straight Euroleague win last week, but it will vividly remember how hard it had to work before edging Partizan 70-66 for a victory which began the streak.
Partizan won three straight continental games, including against Real Madrid at home, before losing at Efes Istanbul last week and it to will be parting with an NBA player on Thursday.
Nikola Pekovic (15.2 ppg, 4.8 rpg) will return to the Minnesota Timberwolves next week and is hoping to leave on a winning note.
“I feel like a part of the Partizan family and I am so sad because this is my last game in a black and white jersey,” he said. “My goal was to help young players, not to force myself. I shall try to help the team beat Maccabi which is one of best Euroleague teams this season.
“If we manage to win that game I shall leave Partizan knowing that I did a good job.”
One of the young players Pekovic is talking about is Milan Macvan, who joined Belgrade on loan from Maccabi.
The 22-year-old Macvan has been outstanding so far this season, leading his team with 15.3 points and 7.8 rebounds.
“Maccabi is a team built for the Final Four but we are going to build our own game and try to control the rhythm,” Partizan coach Vlade Jovanovic said. “It would be bad if we follow Maccabi’s rhythm because they wish to play a fast-paced game. We are not in a position to threaten them but we can promise fight and concentration.
Our starting playmaker Acie Law is injured and even if he will play he shall be far from his best.”
Nevertheless, Maccabi coach David Blatt is expecting another tough game in Belgrade.
“I think the atmosphere makes Partizan a great place to play in, even though it’s very tough and supportive of the home team,” Blatt said. “Farmar came to Maccabi with a fantastic attitude, and he’ll leave us with a very good feeling.
I think everyone learned to appreciate him and to love him, because he’s someone who gave with all his heart.
“We have nothing to regret because we always knew this day would come. We were very successful with him, and I hope that one day he’ll come back and help us achieve more success.”
Despite the fact Maccabi has failed to score more than 70 points in games in which Farmar has not played, Blatt is taking his time in bringing in a replacement.
“We have many options,” he said.
“There will be players from teams which will not progress in European competition and there will be NBA free-agents after the training camps end. We have our hand on the pulse and we’ll take our time before deciding who to bring in.”
Farmar is confident Maccabi will manage without him after he makes his final appearance in yellow- and-blue on Thursday. “Maccabi has a very talented group of guys, and a good group of guys, and I think that’s the most important thing,” he said.
“I’m not worried about them. I think they’ll be fine. There are a lot of good basketball players on this team, and they’ll figure out a way without me.”