Maccabi primed for showdown with Knicks at the Garden

Maccabi primed for showd

Maccabi Tel Aviv begins its two-game exhibition junket to the United States with a contest against the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden on Sunday, just three days after comfortably taking care of Olimpija Ljubljana in its Euroleague opener. There is little doubt that Pini Gershon's newly rebuilt Maccabi squad faces a much greater challenge in Mike D'antoni's Knicks than it did in the 85-65 home victory over the Ljubljana on Thursday, but the Israelis will aim to represent European basketball at the highest level. Following the game in New York, Maccabi will travel to Los Angeles to play the Clippers on Tuesday before returning to Israel for its BSL opener at Maccabi Haifa on October 25. Coach Gershon was satisfied with the way his team played against Olimipija, but said there is still much room for improvement. "I am happy we got through this with no problems. We guarded well and scored many baskets. We are still not completely ready. It will take time," Gershon said. Center D'or Fischer was positive about the future, telling reporters: "The atmosphere was good, we played very well and I'm excited for our win. It's early, it's only one win. As long as we keep trying to get better the sky's the limit." Alan Anderson, who scored a game-high 25 points, added: "It felt good to win the game. It shows if we play defense we can go on a run and shut anyone down." This will be the second time in two years that Maccabi has played the Knicks at the Garden, losing 112-85 in October 2007. New York, which has not reached the playoffs since 2004 and has finished fifth in the Atlantic Division two seasons running, has a 2-2 record so far in preseason, including a 93-89 victory over the New Jersey Nets on Friday. Nate Robinson took advantage of his first preseason start, scoring 15 points and passing three assists. D'Antoni admitted he has still not fully decided on his best opening five and will use the final run outs, including Sunday's game against Tel Aviv, to try more options. "I just think we have eight guys - even nine guys now - who are very interchangeable and we have to see what works," D'Antoni said. "It might even be what works against certain teams and certain lineups might be better for other teams. I want guys to be comfortable whether they start or whether they don't start. I don't think they'll have beef one way or the other." New York will play Boston and New Jersey again in its final preseason games before starting its NBA season against the Miami Heat on October 28. On TV: New York Knicks vs Maccabi Tel Aviv (live on Sport5+LIVE at 7 p.m.)