Maccabi capable of avoiding a Fener thumping
Israeli team are improving
Maccabi Tel Aviv have lost their last eight road games and are out of the Euroleague playoff race, but they can still give Fenerbahce a run for their money in Istanbul.
Fenerbahce, last year’s runners-up, are one win away from a return to the playoffs and going well under Zeljko Obradovic.
Odds of 1-7 about the hosts tell you all you need to know and a team with a 17-9 record hosting opponents with a 9-17 record should only end one way.
Yet there are strong grounds for thinking that the Israeli side, with an 11.5-point start, can cover the spread.
Maccabi are 4-8 under new coach Ainars Bagatskis and know where their problems lie. A turnover percentage of 14.4 is the second highest in the league and shows a chronic lack of care for the ball.
Yet they actually boast a better scoring average than Fenerbahce – 78.9 points per game compared to 77.1 – and more rebounds, 34.5 compared to 32. They also beat Fenerbahce 87-77 in Tel Aviv in November and boast a historic 4-3 record in Turkey.
Five of Fenerbahce’s last six wins have been by single figures and there’s no doubt that if Maccabi can just look after the basketball, they can stay competitive.
Much is being made of the absence of Maccabi’s top scorer, the ex-Laker and Fenerbahce guard Andrew Goudelock, but the Turks are also minus their own point guard, Kostas Sloukas, so expect this to stay close.
Maccabi Tel Aviv +11.5
5pts 19-20 Coral