It's been a scant four weeks, but Maccabi Tel Aviv's miserable performance against Caja Laboral seems like a distant memory. The team has solidified during its three straight Euro victories since that defeat. The loose assembly of hired guns of last season has turned into a frightening unit with a suffocating defense. The next potential victim tonight is Asseco Prokuom
"Despite being, on paper, a team with a lot of new players, there are also guys like Tal Burstein and Lior Eliyahu who know the system and transitioned back smoothly and quickly," says Assistant Coach Guy Goodes. "[Jeremy] Pargo is in his second year in Israel, and that's always easier for a foreigner."
Goodes describes both Richard Hendrix and Sofoklis Schortsanitis as nice and quiet, which helps create continuity. "A team like Barcelona stays together for years with almost no changes, adding players here and there," he adds. "It creates confidence and stability, which is also the name of the game."
Maccabi of late has been known for instability, both on and off the court. Things have been much quiet, but head coach David Blatt knows the ups and downs of Maccabi from a previous stint.
"No one is promising we'll win 50 straight games, and I can guarantee you that won't happen," says Goodes. "But no doubt the remedy for pressure is winning. When you've passed the hard times, you're better prepared for them. It keeps us on the ground and keeps us winning."
Goodes say Maccabi doesn't have the payroll it once had, and the staff knows there are richer teams in Europe that can sign any player they want. "But our advantage is that there's no superstar that everyone relies on to carry the team."
As for offense, Goodes says there are games when a little more focus would lead to more points. "We still need to balance our inside and outside game," he says. Defense is the basis of Maccabi's identity this season, he adds, "and I think that will get us ahead."
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