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Mac. TA competing in Russian hoops tourney

Maccabi tel Aviv’s basketball team will face Euroleague basketball rival Lokomotiv Kuban in the semifinal of the prestigious Gomelsky Tournament in Moscow on Saturday. The second semifinal will feature CSKA Moscow taking on Panathinaikos. David Blatt, Maccabi’s head coach, is likely to meet with the president of the Russian basketball federation, Yulia Anikeeva, who is reportedly interested in bringing him back to lead the national team. However, it is doubtful he would agree to return. (Arie Livnat)

Raonic, Simon advance in Bangkok tennis

Third seed Milos Raonic and No. 4 Gilles Simon began play at the Thailand Open yesterday with quarterfinal victories over a pair of Australian opponents. Raonic had to work for more than two and a half hours to get past Marinko Matosevic, breaking in the final game of a struggle to produce a 7-6 (7-3), 4-6, 6-4 second-round victory thanks in part to 21 aces. Simon, losing a year ago to fellow Frenchman Richard Gasquet, won the 300th match of his career by defeating Bernard Tomic 6-4, 7-5. Simon was riding a wave of confidence after winning the Metz title last weekend with a defeat of Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. Gasquet had an easy outing against Lukas Lacko 6-3, 6-2 to reach the last eight. (DPA)

Kiwis braced for Argentina rugby passion play

New Zealand is preparing for a greater test of concentration than last year’s in the Estadio Unico cauldron on Saturday, with Argentina edging ever closer to a first win in the Rugby Championship. The All Blacks had to recover from a disjointed start to last year’s fixture in La Plata before stamping their authority on the game with a 54-15 win. The Pumas, however, are managing their run-in to the southern hemisphere’s top international tournament better than in their debut season, and feel fresher for the match against the holder and world champion. Coach Santiago Phelan has sensibly rotated his squad and gave his players a week off after their efforts on the road in New Zealand, a 28-13 defeat, and Australia, where they lost 14-13 two weeks ago. (Reuters)

David Blatt coaching Maccabi Tel Aviv this past season.Credit: Nir Keidar