Published on : 01/05/2018
By : Arista Asmawati
Maccabi won two of its first three road games, but has lost the past three against Barcelona, CSKA Moscow and Panathinaikos.
After losing its past three Euroleague road games by double digits and with two of its key players out injured, Maccabi Tel Aviv begins the second half of the regular season at Real Madrid on Friday night knowing it needs to start winning away from home on a consistent basis to remain alive in the hunt for a quarterfinal berth.
Maccabi won two of its first three road games, but has lost the past three against Barcelona, CSKA Moscow and Panathinaikos by an average of 16.3 points per contest.
The yellow-and-blue, which plays nine of its remaining 15 games on the road, has struggled to win in general over recent weeks, falling to an 8-7 record with last Thursday’s 89-78 defeat to Unicaja Malaga at Yad Eliyahu Arena.
Maccabi is in seventh place at the midway point of the regular season, tied with Khimi Moscow in eighth and just one game ahead of Baskonia Vitoria and Malaga.
“We will try to do our best even though we are without some of our players,” said Maccabi coach Neven Spahija, whose team is coming off a shock BSL defeat to Hapoel Tel Aviv on Tuesday.
“We will try and match them and still think positive about this game. I expect the guys to play tough and play better defense and at least keep doing the good things that we have done in the first part of the season.”
Maccabi will have to manage without two of its three top scorers, with Norris Cole (14.0 points per game) being ruled out for 2-3 weeks with a muscle tear on Wednesday, joining Deshaun Thomas (12.0 ppg) on the injury list, with the forward out for at least another week.
Thomas led Maccabi with 21 points in the 90-83 victory over Real at Yad Eliyahu two months ago.
That defeat was one of six over a seven-game stretch for Real, but the Spaniards have since won four in a row.
Madrid is being led this season by 18-year-old phenom Luka Doncic, who was named as the MVP of Week 15 after finishing the 79-77 win over Fenerbahce in Istanbul last week with 20 points, 10 assists and eight rebounds.
It was Doncic’s third MVP of the Round honors, which leads all Euroleague players this season.
Doncic, who is expected to be a lottery pick at the upcoming NBA draft, is averaging 18.6 points, 5.7 rebounds and 4.8 assists per game so far this season.