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Dedication: Maccabi Tel Aviv BC

Dedication.

The definition of dedication from the Merriam-Webster Dictionary is as follows:
1) a devoting or setting aside for a particular purpose
2) self-sacrificing devotion and loyalty

Yesterday Maccabi Tel Aviv Head Coach Ainars Bagatskis spoke about the fact that the players have to focus on their jobs and that’s the most important thing for them to do for ten months other than family. For that whole time, they must to be dedicated to basketball.

This season, there have certainly been times where the dedication of the players have had to be questioned, there’s absolutely no doubt about that. Going through four coaches, disagreements between players, the resignation of the the CEO that was just appointed over the summer, Maccabi Tel Aviv has certainly had its challenges this campaign. You can change many things around the team but it’s much harder to change the players on the actual team.

Bagatskis spoke about how the players have put in a couple of days of good practice since the disaster in Eilat. Well, that’s how it should be for every practice and every game no matter what competition it may be in, Israeli League, Euroleague or State Cup. Every single minute the players put on a Maccabi logo, they have to be 110% dedicated to the Yellow & Blue.

Last week following the victory over Darusaafaka, Coach Bagatskis ripped the players in the lockerroom about not giving it all for the entire 40 minutes as the team blew a large lead, fell into a deficit but was able to pull out the win. I’ve got no problem with that whatsoever, it’s probably what the players needed but then they laid the good ole proverbial egg on Monday night against Eilat. It was clear some players just didn’t show up because it wasn’t a Euroleague game and it doesn’t attract the attention of the greater universe.

Sure, Maccabi played good ball for the first ten minutes but then it was all downhill from there, poor decisions, solo acts and more for the final three quarters of play. It wasn’t a pretty picture. Eilat’s Landon Milbourne looked more the part of a Euroleague player than many of the Yellow & Blue scoring at will.

At 6-10 in Euroleague action, Maccabi must try to find ways to win each and every game if they are to have a chance to go to the playoffs. Bagatskis says that it’s 50:50 for the team to win in Madrid which surprised most of the journalists. But if the Latvian can find the right combo and get his team going with the right mojo then 50:50 could indeed be realistic odds. You never know what might happen on the court in any single game and if Maccabi prepared well who knows.

Last night I watched a number of Euroleague contests from David Blatt’s Darusaafaka’s win over Baskonia to the terrific games between Red Star and Fenerbahce as well as Barcelona against Olympiacos. These matchups were fabulous from the passion and dedication of the players on the court playing every second of the game like it was the last one of the season. If only Maccabi Tel Aviv could be a consistent threat day in and day out just like the days of Anthony Parker, Saras, Baston, Sharp and Vujcic. Ah yes, those were the days when Maccabi wouldn’t lose a league game and every Israeli team would be petrified at the thought of playing against the Yellow & Blue powerhouse.

Those are the days that need to be recreated and fast. But in order to do that the players must be DEDICATED! Dedicated to the cause and the rich history of Maccabi Tel Aviv.

I asked Coach Bagatskis if all of his players are dedicated and he said: “What I saw in the practice and I can put my hand on my heart, is that they all showed dedication.” I certainly hope that this is the case because they need to be fully focused and dedicated in order to have any chance or reaching their full potential and expectations this season.