Maccabi TA looking to rebound vs Prokom

Maccabi Tel Aviv looks to rebound from its first local loss in 10 months by improving to 4-0 in Euroleague Group B.

Maccabi Tel Aviv's Malcolm Thomas 370 (photo credit: Adi Avishai)
Maccabi Tel Aviv's Malcolm Thomas 370
(photo credit: Adi Avishai)
Maccabi Tel Aviv coach David Blatt took his team’s first local loss in 10 months in his stride, but he will not be able to do so again should the yellow-and-blue fail to defeat Prokom Gdynia of Poland in Euroleague action on Thursday night.
Maccabi Rishon Lezion snapped Tel Aviv’s 22-game local winning streak, which stretched back to January, with an 81-64 victory at Nokia Arena on Sunday. But Blatt believes his team will show no lasting effects on Thursday and bounce back to improve to 4- 0 in Euroleague Group B.
“We had two good training sessions this week and when we train properly the results follow,” Blatt said on Wednesday. “When you win 11 straight games and then lose one you don’t need to make any big changes. We are thinking about Prokom and not about the past. We simply didn’t show up against Rishon. Our players had no energy or drive. We hit a wall.”
After two tight defeats to Chalon-Sur-Saone and Unicaja Malaga, Gdynia got off the mark in the Euroleague with a 77-66 win over Alba Berlin last week.
Prokom leads the Euroleague in assists through three games with an average of 18.7 per game, with American guard Jerel Blassingame averaging a competition-high 9.3 assists.
“Maccabi is a great team and they will play at home, with huge support from their fans,” said Prokom coach Kestutis Kemzura, who worked as an assistant coach under Blatt for three seasons between 2004 and 2007.
“The team is well coached by one of my mentors, David Blatt. We expect a very tough game. The key fact in my opinion is to keep our turnovers at minimum, rebounding and good defense.”
Maccabi is 4-0 all-time against Prokom, winning by an average margin of 25.3 points, but Blatt is not expecting another blowout on Thursday.
“Some people may not consider Gdynia a very strong team, but it beat Alba and only lost to Malaga in the final seconds,” said Blatt, who stepped down from his position as the coach of the Russia national team on Tuesday. “We mustn’t allow them to play their game because they could cause us some real problems. They have proven that they can keep games tight and we need to be ready for that.”
David Logan was Maccabi’s top scorer with 17 points in last week’s 90-61 thrashing of Chalon and he is optimistic the defeat to Rishon will have no long term consequences.
“We haven’t forgotten the defeat to Rishon and we will learn from it,” said Logan, who spent two seasons with Prokom between 2008 and 2010. “However, we are moving on and will try to play against Prokom the way we did against Chalon. This is a long season and we need to make sure we don’t suffer any more defeats like that. We are fighting to finish in one of the top two places in our group and we will have to be ready because we have a lot to lose.”
After a tumultuous off-season, Yogev Ohayon is slowly settling back into his position as Maccabi’s leading point-guard, registering nine points, nine assists and seven rebounds against Chalon in his best game of the campaign so far.
“We didn’t make a big deal out of the defeat to Rishon,” Ohayon said.
“We need to understand that this is a very rigorous season and we will suffer the occasional fall. The most important thing is that we correct our biggest problem from Sunday and return to play with energy against Prokom.”