Basketball: Maccabi Looks To Secure First Place

– by Amir Shoam

Maccabi Tel Aviv will play tomorrow in Italy against Sienna in the basketball Euroleague group stage. With a 5-1 record, Maccabi is currently holding the group’s first place thanks to winning Unicaja Malaga by 5 points before losing to it by 2 points last week. Sienna is the third-best team in the group so far with a 3-3 record, and a win against it will make it very possible for Maccabi to finish the group with a 9-1 record, which will guarantee first place.

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Last Sunday Maccabi beat Hapoel Eilat 79-68 in a game full of upsets in the local league. Israeli forward Lior Eliyahu was man of the match with 18 points, 6 rebounds and 6 assists.

Israel’s national team was drawn to a relatively easy group in the 2013 European championship: except for 2011’s silver medalist France, the team will play against Britain, Germany, Ukraine and Belgium, in all of which basketball is not considered a major sport. The tournament will be held in Slovenia next September, and the top three teams from each group will qualify to the next round.

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Basketball: Maccabi Loses, But Retains First Place

— by Amir Shoam

Maccabi Tel Aviv lost today 62-64 to Unicaja Malaga in the basketball Euroleague group stage. However, with both teams holding a positive 5-1 record in the competition now, Maccabi still beats Malaga in the group table for winning it 85-80 in the first round. The score has been close for most of the game’s time, with Malaga leading twice by six points and Maccabi leading once by five only to see each other coming back. Devin Smith and Ricky Hickman missed during Maccabi’s last possession and could not force overtime.

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Center Shawn James contributed 14 points, nine rebounds and two steals for Maccabi in 20 minutes. Hickman added 13 points, five rebounds and five steals in 28 minutes. Israeli guard Yogev Ohayon finished with seven points, seven of Maccabi’s total nine assists, and two steals in 31 minutes.

Just a couple of hours before the game rockets were fired to the Tel Aviv area, for the first time since the Gulf War in 1991. The result of Hamas’ attack was that the Yad Eliyahu arena (11,700 sits) was not full, which rarely happens in a Euroleague game.

“All through the game we played too slow and did not develop the kind of game we needed to”, said head coach David Blatt. “All of the surrounding events affected us more than they did them, but some things are more important than this game. Despite that, the game had to be played”, he added.

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Adelson: “Netanyahu does not obey me more than Peres does”

– by Amir Shoam

Israel Hayom free daily owner Sheldon Adelson wrote today in his own paper an op-ed titled Ehud Olmert’s conspiracy theory, responding to former prime minister’s accusations of current PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s “interfering in US elections for an American billionaire with a clear interest in them”.

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“Olmert recently brought up a weird conspiracy theory about me – a theory that could be flattering if it wasn’t that ridiculous”, he wrote. “Reading Olmert’s accusations I recalled the joke about the Jew who preferred anti-Semitic papers for they tell us so many good news: how the Jews rule the congress, manage the media, control international politics. I’m not saying Olmert is anti-Semitic, but that he attributes me with power I just don’t have”.

“A lot has been said about my friendship with Netanyahu, mostly by Olmert and ‘Yedioth Aharonoth’, ‘Israel Hayom’s competitor. It’s easy to forget that I’m also close friends with Shimon Peres, Eli Wiesel and Alan Dershowitz, a known supporter of president Obama. Netanyahu does not obey my orders more than the rest of my friends do”.

Basketball: Maccabi Struggles To Finish The Round Perfect

– by Amir Shoam

Maccabi Tel Aviv finished the 1st round of the basketball Euroleague group stage with a perfect 5-0 score, after a close-fought 78-76 win over Alba Berlin. Maccabi (this time in blue uniforms) scored the first 12 points of the game, but Alba showed improvement during the first half and first equalized the score at 30-30. The host even led 40-46 during the 3rd quarter, but another impressive run sent Maccabi back to lead 52-47. Alba missed its last throw, which cost it the game.

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Tonight’s hero was forward Devin Smith, with 20 points, 3 assists and 1 block in 28 minutes. Israeli swingman Guy Pnini made an important contribution off the bench, with 11 points, 3 rebounds, 2 steals and 1 assist in 16 minutes. Malcolm Thomas added 9 points, 6 rebounds and a steal in 22 minutes. Next Thursday Maccabi will host the Spanish Unicaja Malaga.

Soccer – Hapoel Tel Aviv was beaten 0-4 in Czech by Viktoria Plzen in the European league group stage. On Sunday the team will play against Maccabi Tel Aviv, and coach Yossi Abukasis had decided to keep many of his first-stringers on the bench in order to rest them.

Basketball: Maccabi Seeks A Perfect First Round

– by Amir Shoam

Maccabi Tel Aviv will play tomorrow in Germany against Alba Berlin in the basketball Euroleague group stage. Maccabi has a 4-0 score so far in the competition, and another win tomorrow will complete a perfect first round. “Berlin is a great place to play in. The problem is that Alba is a great home team”, said head coach David Blatt. So far in the tournament Alba has a 2-2 record.

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Last Sunday Maccabi had another impressive domestic league win, 87-67 over Maccabi Haifa. The men in yellow led 32-16 after the first quarter, and although Haifa roared back its energy was over by the last quarter. A dispute occurred in the first half over Yogev Ohayon’s angry response to a foul made on him while the game was paused. David logan was named man of the match for his 19 points, 6 assists and 6 rebounds. Ohayon added 11 points and 6 assists, while Georgian center Giorgi Shermadini contributed 11 points and 8 rebounds.

Soccer – Hapoel Tel Aviv lost this week 2-1 to Maccabi Netanya, and another loss against Maccabi Tel Aviv this Sunday will open a gap of 9 table points between the two teams and severely hurt the reds’ championship aspirations. Tomorrow Hapoel will play in Czech against Viktoria Plzen in the European league group stage, but Coach Yossi Abukasis declared that the game against Maccabi is more important and that he will bench a few of his stars in order to rest them in preparation for it.

Israeli Basketball: A Very Yellow Weekend

— by Amir Shoam

Maccabi Tel Aviv thrashed Polish champion Prokom Gdynia 93-62 last Thursday in the basketball Euroleague group stage. The win came four days after the humiliating domestic league defeat, 64-81 to Maccabi Rishon Lezion. Maccabi led 27-13 after the first quarter on the way to 50-30 at the break, and most of the second half became “garbage time.” (With little doubt in the final result coaches of both teams replaced their best players with substitutes in order to protect their stars from injury and give their second stringers valuable playing experience.)

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Ricky Hickman led the side with 14 points, 6 assists, 4 rebounds and 2 steals in 24 minutes. David Logan added 13 points, 3 rebounds, 3 steals and 2 assists in 22 minutes. The most influential Israeli was point guard Yogev Ohayon, with 8 points, 4 assists, 3 rebounds and no turnovers in 24 minutes.

The win kept Maccabi on top of group B with 4 wins out of 4 games. Next Thursday the team will play in Germany against Alba Berlin (2 wins, 2 losses) in the final game of the 1st round.

Maccabi’s head coach, David Blatt, announced earlier this week that he will not continue as the head coach of the Russian national team, “for personal reasons”. Just over a year from his appointment, the American/Israeli coach led the team to win the 2007 European championship. He later won the bronze medal in both the 2011 continental championship and the Olympic tournament last summer.

Jordan Farmar contributed 18 points to one of the Euroleague’s greatest upsets of recent years: Efes Istanbul went back from trailing 30-48 after the 1st half to a 76-64 win over Caja Vitoria. The American Jew, who won 2 NBA championships with the LA Lakers, also added 6 rebounds and 3 assists in his 30 minutes on the field.

Maccabi Tel Aviv’s soccer team also had success today as it went to top the Israeli premier league table after a 3-1 win over Hapoel Ramat Gan. Eliran Atar scored his 8th and 9th goals of the season during the first 4 minutes of the second half and keeps leading the top scorers’ table. Maccabi now has 21 points of 8 games. SC Ashdod, which is having a surprisingly good season so far, went down to the 2nd place with 19 points after 0-0 versus Hapoel Be’er Sheva.

Hapoel Tel Aviv (15 points) will play tomorrow against Maccabi Netanya. Next Saturday Maccabi and Hapoel Tel Aviv will play each other.

Eden Ben Basat scored yesterday his 4th goal of the season (in 7 appearances) for Stade Brest in the win 2-0 against FC Lorient in the French Ligue 1. Goalkeeper Guy Haimov broke the Cypriot first division record for not conceding a goal for the longest time, as he kept his net clean in the 8th straight game since the start of the season. His team, AEK Larnaka, is coached by Ran Ben Shimon, who led Ironi Kiryat Shmona to a sensational Israeli championship last season. The team beat AEP Paphos 3-0 today and has 22 table points.