Siena in town as Mac TA eyes 2-0 start

Yellow-and-blue will continue to rely on emerging chemistry between newcomers, veterans.

David Logan 370 (photo credit: Adi Avishai)
David Logan 370
(photo credit: Adi Avishai)
After winning its Euroleague road opener for the first time since 2004 last week, Maccabi Tel Aviv hopes to extend a streak rather than end one on Thursday night when it hosts Montepaschi Siena at Nokia Arena.
Maccabi has not lost its Euroleague home opener in 14 years and enters Thursday’s showdown in a confident mood after its promising performance at Unicaja Malaga last week.
Despite bringing in seven new players in the summer, five of them without Euroleague experience, David Blatt’s team displayed flair and character in Spain, with almost all of the new faces looking surprisingly settled with the yellow- and-blue.
Ricky Hickman and David Logan were two of the team’s top scorers, combining for 30 points, while youngsters Malcolm Thomas and Sylven Landesberg made crucial contributions off the bench.
Yogev Ohayon also showed no lasting effects from the off-season saga which almost saw him leave the club and played a big role in the win together with fellow Israelis Lior Eliyahu and Guy Pnini.
Maccabi built on the win in Malaga with an 88-82 victory over Hapoel Jerusalem in its BSL opener on Sunday, but Blatt was as cautious as ever on Wednesday ahead of the clash with Siena.
“We are facing a team with a lot of talent which has yet to gel and find the right balance,” Blatt said. “Siena is going through a mini-crisis and is hoping to break out of it against us. We need to make sure we are fully focused because this is not going to be an easy game.”
Siena completely overhauled its roster in the summer, but perhaps the biggest change of all was made on the sidelines where Luca Banchi took over from longtime coach Simone Pianigiani.
Siena won the Italian championship in each of the past six years, but it is still looking for its way this season.
With just four of the team’s rotation players remaining for another season and Pianigiani taking star playmaker Bo McCalebb with him to Fenerbahce, it is little surprise Siena has gotten the season off to a far from impressive start.
The Italians suffered a surprise 92-82 home defeat to Alba Berlin in their Euroleague opener last week and lost a second straight game after falling 74- 67 to Varese in local league play on Monday.
“We are about to face a very tough game against one of the best teams in Europe, which was able to get off on the right foot with the win in Malaga and is now one of the favorites in our group,” Banchi said. “In regards to our team we will take this game as a very important one because we want to improve our efficiency against such a competitive team and in front of one of the most evocative arenas in this competition.
“We will play 40 minutes of high intensity basketball and we want to face them with a good and strong attitude and leadership in order to keep up with one of the best rosters in the Euroleague.”
After struggling to find his place at Caja Laboral Vitoria and Panathinaikos in the past two seasons, Logan has looked like a rejuvenated player over recent weeks and the American guard is optimistic Maccabi will continue its impressive start to the season on Thursday.
“I am playing well so far,” Logan said.
“This group has been working for me and it has helped me a lot. They are all talented players and they play very well.
We all know it will be very difficult to play a game against Siena but we are playing at home. I think it will turn out okay for us.”