Alba in the house: Maccabi Tel Aviv readies for Berlin in Euroleague action

Jan 18, 2023 | Holyland Hoops

Maccabi Tel Aviv will host ALBA Berlin on Thursday night (21:05) at Yad Eliyahu in its round 20 EuroLeague matchup. Both teams are coming off round 19 EuroLeague losses (Maccabi on the road to Panathinaikos 86-88 and ALBA at home to Real Madrid 77-84) and will be looking to get back on track with a win. Maccabi is currently in 9th spot in the standings with 10 wins and 9 losses (with only one of those losses coming at home), while ALBA is in 16th place with a 6-13 record. However, despite ALBA’s poor results and position in the standings, Maccabi know that it cannot take a lenient approach to the game.

Oded Katash – Photo Credit: Dov Halickman

“I know it’s typical to look at the standings and decide in advance who will win, but it would be a mistake for us to that,” Maccabi coach Oded Katash said to the media. “I think that we are going to face a team that is well-coached and very good. They do their things at a very high level. I think that they’re a better team that their results suggest. They play a style which is a little different from other EuroLeague teams. The keys for tomorrow are defensively to slow them down and prevent them from their running game and to control the rebounds.”

Yovel Zoosman and Tamir Blatt – Photo Credit: Euroleague

Maccabi and ALBA last met four weeks ago in round 15, when Maccabi – who has the worst away record in the EuroLeague this season – celebrated its most-recent road win in an 83-70 victory in Berlin. It was a game in which Maccabi found itself down 40-47 at halftime, but came away with the win following a strong 22-7 final quarter. That night, Jarrell Martin also had his best performance for Maccabi, scoring 21 points (including 4/7 from beyond the arc) and taking 7 rebounds, with a performance index rating of 27.

Jarell Martin – Photo Credit: Dov Halickman

The home side may look a little different tomorrow night, with it being unclear whether Martin (who missed Monday night’s 105-89 State Cup victory over Bnei Herzliya) or Jalen Adams (who scored 17 points against ALBA last month, but did not train today due to feeling unwell) will play. Similarly, Israelis Tamir Blatt and Yoval Zoosman are in doubt for the visitors, with Blatt suffering a hand injury in ALBA’s 81-76 victory over Basket Bonn in local league action on Sunday night and Zoosman carrying a groin injury.

“Both of them are important to ALBA,” Katash commented on the potential absences of Blatt and Zoosman. “They are both players that I really like. I am happy for their success. I think that everyone has a different influence on a game. It definitely has an impact. I think that Tamir in the way that he plays the pick and roll brings something a little different to ALBA, that even in our first game against them away it caused a lot of damage in the first half. So it is definitely significant when thinking about the game plan. Also, Yovel and the things that he does are very impressive. Definitely, if we know in advance who will and won’t play, it will of course half an impact on the game plan.”

Tamir Blatt – Photo Credit: Alba Berlin

Another difference to the previous clash is that in December, ALBA was on a 12-game losing streak. Since the loss to Maccabi, however, they have gone 3-1 in the EuroLeague.

“ALBA has obviously a specific style to them that they share the ball really well together and they’re unique how they play through,” captain John Dibartolomeo added. “[Luke] Sikma, who’s a great creator at the big man position. I know it was only four weeks ago, but momentum in basketball – especially in the EuroLeague – is a really powerful thing. They were in the middle of a very long, tough losing streak when we got them. Now I think they’re on a bit of a winning streak. Confidence plays a huge role in that and that’s what I mean when I say we’re facing a little bit of a different team this time around.”

John Dibartolomeo – Photo Credit: Dov Halickman

Maccabi boasts an 8-1 record home, so Katash will be hoping that his players will take some confidence into the game as favorites to win, rather than being pressured by the favorites tag.

Lorenzo Brown and Oded Katash – Photo Credit: Dov Halickman

“I wouldn’t say it’s difficult,” Lorenzo Brown responded when asked about the difficulty of going into the game as favorites. “I just think that us keeping our focus is the main objective of a game like this. Keeping the same energy and just knowing our personnel is out on the court with us. It’s a balanced out season right now, we’re focusing on the task at hand. Pay attention to detail, and you know, coming in with all of that energy.”

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