David Blatt, Maccabi Tel Aviv's head coach, sounded cool on Wednesday as if to say that his team's Euroleague game against Cantu tonight isn't one of its most important contests of the season. "There's nothing to fear but fear itself," he said with a smile at a press conference on Wednesday.
Just two weeks ago, Maccabi was 40-5 in all competitions and rode an 18-game winning streak. Since then it has dropped two Euroleague games as well as a Super League match. "At least we had three-four days to prepare," Blatt said. "Regretfully, we did not have enough such opportunities during this packed season."
Cantu cannot count on history when it visits Maccabi Tel Aviv Thursday night. The Italian squad lost all four of its games at Yad Eliahu against Maccabi between 1976 and 1984.
The only time Cantu beat Maccabi in Israel was in Holon in 1969. That game was called while Cantu was leading 67-51 with 2:55 remaining, because of rain.
Cantu has not performed well on the road this season, dropping 11 of 15 away games in Euroleague and Italian league play. Maccabi is riding a 16-game home streak against Italian rivals, its last loss coming in January 2004 against Skipper Bologna.