In its final home game of the regular season, Maccabi will look for a decisive win to remain in the playoff hunt. The Israeli champs are one of seven teams vying for one of the three remaining playoff berths. Gran Canaria is playing carefree basketball and routed Olympiacos Piraeus last week in a game that hindered the Reds' playoff push. However, while Gran Canaria has won two of its last three games, it has not won on the road since Round 11 in December.
In their previous meeting
Gran Canaria bested Maccabi 84-78 in Round 7 behind a career night from forward Eulis Baez. He set a career-high with a performance index rating of 32 and finished the game with 16 points on 8-of-9 free throw shooting, 10 rebounds, 4 assists, a steal, a block and 7 fouls drawn. Chris Evans led the winners with 17 points and Clevin Hannah scored 15 for Gran Canaria. Maccabi led 65-68 midway through the fourth quarter, but Baez helped steer Gran Canaria on a 14-6 push that gave the hosts control for good. Michael Roll paced Maccabi with 15 points and DeAndre Kane and Alex Tyus each added 13.
The top scorer on each team is a gunner who can dominate any game when he gets hot from the perimeter. Though Maccabi's Scottie Wilbekin (12.9 ppg.) plays point guard and Gran Canaria's Marcus Eriksson (10.9 ppg.) is a small forward, their shooting will greatly impact the game. They have each made at least 4 threes in a game five times this season and a similar shooting night Thursday at Menora Mivtachim Arena would be a game-changer.
Keys to victory: Maccabi
Maccabi set a club rebounding record with 54 boards on the road at Khimki Moscow Region last week and similar rebounding dominance against Gran Canaria could be a key to victory. Not only is Maccabi, which ranks fourth in the league with 35.4 rebounds per game, superior to Gran Canaria, 12th with 31.6 per game, but the visitors also allow the second-most rebounds (35.7). That sounds like good news for Tarik Black, Johnny O'Bryant and Alex Tyus.
Keys to victory: Gran Canaria
For the season, Gran Canaria is ranked 14th in three-point accuracy at 34.2% and has made 8.8 threes per game however in its last two wins the team has been hot from downtown. Against Darussafaka the Islanders eight different players struck from downtown and the team was 12 for 25. Against Olympiacos, Marcus Eriksson was 6 for 10 from downtown and Siim-Sander Vene 3 for 3 as the team made 13 of 29. Great outside shooting could be the trump card in Tel Aviv.