Maintaining recent form is Mac TA’s goal vs Kuban

Maccabi opened the Top 16 with an impressive 90-84 victory over Galatasaray in Turkey.

Maccabi Tel Aviv's Yogev Ohayon 370 (photo credit: Adi Avishai)
Maccabi Tel Aviv's Yogev Ohayon 370
(photo credit: Adi Avishai)
After getting the Euroleague Top 16 off to an ideal start last week, Maccabi Tel Aviv will look to continue to build momentum when it hosts Lokomotiv Kuban at Nokia Arena on Thursday night.
Maccabi opened the Top 16 with an impressive 90-84 victory over Galatasaray in Turkey last Thursday, reaching the 90-point mark for just the second time in 11 continental contests this season thanks to a superb offensive display.
The yellow-and-blue hit 25-of- 42 two-point attempts (59 percent) and 10-of-20 three-pointers (50%), while committing just six turnovers on the way to its ninth win from its past 10 Euroleague encounters.
Maccabi made it 10 wins in a row in all competitions with a 79-71 BSL triumph at Maccabi Haifa on Monday and will be targeting its third victory of the season over Kuban.
Tel Aviv cruised to a 15-point win (73-58) in Russia in November before hanging on for a 75-73 triumph over Kuban at Nokia last month.
Maccabi seemed to be on course for a relatively straightforward victory after opening a 12-point margin (65-53) early in the fourth quarter, only for Kuban to seize control with a 20-2 run (73-67).
However, Kuban – which was without star forward Derrick Brown, who will play on Thursday – failed to score in the final three minutes and Maccabi clinched the victory after ending the game with eight straight points, but not before Marcus Williams squandered a chance to snatch a win at the buzzer.
Kuban has also lost its three Euroleague games since the defeat in Tel Aviv, falling 84-77 at home to CSKA Moscow in its Top 16 opener last week.
“I think both teams know each other very well now as we’re meeting for the third time this season,” said Kuban coach Evgeny Pashutin.
“They’re the only team that managed to beat us twice. In our last game we were very close to victory, but gave it away on the last few possessions.
In both games it was Sofoklis Schortsanitis who hurt us the most with his scoring down low and passing.”
Pashutin will not have to worry about Sofo on Thursday, with the Greek center being diagnosed with a sprained ankle on Wednesday, ruling him out for between 10 and 14 days.
With center Shawn James bound to be rusty on Thursday after missing the past month of action due to back pain, Maccabi will have to rely heavily on Alex Tyus under the baskets on both ends of the floor.
The under-sized center, who is a lanky 2.03 meters tall, played a combined 22 minutes in Maccabi’s first six Euroleague games, but has since become an important part of David Blatt’s rotation.
He has averaged 8.0 points, 7.4 rebounds and 1.6 blocks over Tel Aviv’s past five continental contests, registering his first Euroleague double-double last week with 12 points and 11 boards in Istanbul.
“I have come off the bench my entire career so whenever I’m called upon I need to be ready,” said Tyus. “The key for us is to be ready to play 40 minutes every game. We have our good moments, but we need to make sure we play a complete game.”