Sinai Says: Tzvika Sherf's Maccabi TA needs a little help from above

Maccabi TA is entering this weekend's Euroleague Final Four in the worst possible state.

tzvika sherf 88 (photo credit: )
tzvika sherf 88
(photo credit: )
Maccabi Tel Aviv's players and management might be putting on a brave face, but the truth must be told - the team is entering this weekend's Euroleague Final Four in the worst possible state. Everybody connected with Maccabi has probably spent the last few weeks convincing themselves that the team's poor BSL form is down to the fact that Tel Aviv's head has been in Madrid ever since the side booked its place in the Final Four on April 10. The fact of the matter is, however, that since the first day of April Maccabi has played six games and has struggled desperately in all those encounters, apart from one, its victory over Barcelona in Game 3 of the Euroleague quarterfinals playoff. Maccabi has lost four of its last six games, but more important is the manner in which the side was defeated. The team's three losses in the BSL to Bnei Hasharon, Hapoel Holon and Ironi Nahariya were all by two points or less, highlighting what has been Tel Aviv's achilles heal all season long. Time and again this season Maccabi has lost its cool and composure at crucial stages of its games and has struggled to clinch wins. Coach Tzvika Sherf may have tried to shrug off the State Cup Final collapse to Hapoel Jerusalem as a one-off, but throughout this season and especially in recent weeks Maccabi has panicked in the closing stages of its games, proving that Yotam Halperin's last-gasp triple which sent the epic game against Real Madrid into overtime was actually the one-off and that it has a real problem when the game is on the line. The problem all comes down to the fact that the team hasn't been able to establish a reliable playmaker this season. Vonteego Cummings was supposed to become the side's leader, but has disappointed all season long, while Halperin's play has ranged from the ridiculous to the sublime, which can be good news sometimes, but more than often is not. Will Bynum's performances have given the word erratic a new meaning, leaving Maccabi in a problematic position ahead of Friday's meeting against Montepaschi Siena. Even if Tel Aviv manages to put aside its poor form and get the better of a Siena side which has only lost nine times in 56 Euroleague and Italian league games this season, it's difficult to see Maccabi conjuring another superb performance in the title game 48 hours later. There is, however, one reason, that eases the pressure on Tel Aviv. Regardless of the outcome this weekend, Maccabi's Euroleague season has been a resounding success. Reaching the Final Four after such a horrid start to the season is nothing short of a miracle. The problem is that miracles don't come along all that often and Maccabi will need divine intervention if it's to return to Israel with its sixth European title next Monday.