Euroleague Basketball: 6 Straight Wins Get Maccabi to Quarter-Final

— by Amir Shoam

Despite the 71-74 loss to Barcelona in the basketball Euroleague second group stage yesterday, Maccabi Tel Aviv qualified to the quarter-final stage, and will meet Spanish League leader Real Madrid for a best-out-of-five game series starting next Wednesday.

After losing five of its first seven games in the second group stage, Maccabi won six in a row against all of the other teams in the group execpt for Barcelona. Small forward Devin Smith was selected Euroleague MVP for March for his performances.

“We didn’t break down even when the situation was hard, and once again showed Europe who are Maccabi Tel Aviv,” said Head Coach David Blatt. “We believed in ourselves and worked hard, and that’s what makes the difference between winners and losers.”

Euroleague Basketball: 3 Straight Wins Get Maccabi Back in Business

— by Amir Shoam

Maccabi Tel Aviv beat Fenerbahce-Ulker Istanbul 94-85 yesterday and went back up to a 5-5 record in the basketball Euroleague second group stage. After an even first quarter (22-22), Maccabi went up to 33-23, and the Turks never managed to cut the difference down to less than five points.

Ricky Hickman scored 18 points with great accuracy (3/5 three-pointers, 7/8 free throws and 1/1 two-pointer). David Logan finished with 15 points (5/7 three-pointers), 3 assists, 2 rebounds, one steal and no turnovers. Devin Smith added 16 points (4/6 three-pointers and 2/3 two-pointers).

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Despite finishing the first stage on top of its group with a 8-2 record, Maccabi did not start the current stage well. Maccabi’s only win from the first five games was the previous encounter with Fenerabhce-Ulker. Since then, except for an understandable 77-82 loss to Barcelona, Maccabi got impressive wins against Basiktas Istanbul (77-55), Siena (92-61) and Caja Laboral (66-62). Next week Maccabi will play against Khimki Mosscow. After 14 games, the top four teams out of eight in each group will move up to the quarter-final series stage.

Head coach David Blatt concluded:

We came today with a very determined mindset knowing that this was a critical game and we played accordingly. We saw some great basketball and teamwork and that’s how Maccabi needs to play. We made a lot of three-pointers because we moved the ball well and got to open shots; we didn’t take crazy shots. The game against Khimki could determine our entire season and it will be a real battle.

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Basketball: Maccabi Tel Aviv Returns To Win Against Istanbul

— by Amir Shoam

After two disappointing losses, Maccabi Tel Aviv beat Fenerbahce-Ulker Istanbul 91-73 yesterday in the basketball Euroleague second group stage. Maccabi could not flee during the first half, which ended in 36-36. During the third quarter Maccabi seemed to run away, but the Turks managed to cut the difference back to 53-48 by its end. However, in the first three minutes of the fourth quarter Maccabi went up to 66-54, and Fenerbahce could not get back from that.

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Maccabi enjoyed a great day of its two best scorers this season: center Shawn James scored 9/10 two-point throws and 4/4 free throws, and also contributed five rebounds and an assist in his 30 minutes on the field. Guard Ricky Hickman scored 6/8 two-pointers, 9/9 free throws and 1/3 three-pointers, and added five assists and five rebounds in 29 minutes. However, Israeli guard Moran Roth was selected game MVP for his six assists and eight points, including 2/2 three-pointers, in 16 minutes.

As remembered, Maccabi finished the first group stage in the first place out of six with an 8-2 win-lose record. As a result, it was placed as one of the two group winners out of eight teams in the new group. In the first game of the stage Maccabi lost to Siena, which finished third in Maccabi’s group in the first stage but has greatly improved during the season — 69-79. Last week Maccabi lost 70-71 to Caja Laboral. The teams that finish in the first four places of this group will advance to the quarter-final series stage.

“Fener has a lot of useful players, but we played better as a team”, said head coach David Blatt. “I’m still hurting last week, because we could win an even better team, but at least we’re back in business. It wasn’t as easy as the score suggests, but the last quarter was something special. We defended pretty well as always, but we needed another scorer except for Ricky and Shawn and I’m happy that Moran had a great game”.

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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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.