Jeremy Pargo (USA)
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Maccabi look to set record straight against CSKA

TEL AVIV (Euroleague) - Six times CSKA Moscow have run onto the floor to play games in the Turkish Airlines Euroleague and six times the Russian giants have prevailed.

CSKA coach Dimitris Itoudis - who this season is at the helm of a Euroleague club for the first time in his career - may have to come up with something special to keep the club's winning streak intact this week because without a doubt his squad faces its toughest test to date with a game at in-form Maccabi Tel Aviv on Thursday night.

Though Maccabi are a changed team from the one that won the competition last season, and though the famous Israeli club crashed to a 19-point at CSKA in Week 2, the outfit led by Guy Goodes has found its rhythm and reeled off victories in its last three games on the road in the competition.

The game against CSKA will be Maccabi's first at the Nokia Arena in two and a half weeks.

"It sometimes helps to get away as it allows you to regain your focus," Goodes said to the Israeli media.

"The players learned to accept each other and I have no doubt that we can play even better. We are facing a big challenge against CSKA which has so far thrashed every team it has met."

Itoudis is expecting a real battle.

"We don't forget that we play against the defending champions and we expect a difficult game in the great basketball atmosphere of Nokia Arena," he said.

"Maccabi is playing well lately, taking three important road victories in the last four Euroleague games.

"(Jeremy) Pargo and (Yogev) Ohayon are playing well, (Sylven) Landesberg is hitting big shots, (Marquez) Haynes adds more threat from the perimeter together with versatile wingman (Devin) Smith. Sofo (Sofoklis Schortsanitis) is definitely a main focus under the basket but we also have to face (Alex) Tyus, a different type of center who is playing above the rim and missed the trip to Moscow.

"As I said we expect a real basketball battle and we will try hard to take the win home."

Maccabi are going to have to survive for the bulk of the campaign without their Israel international Guy Pnini, who had Achilles tendon surgery a couple of weeks ago.

For CSKA, there are numerous weapons to bother Maccabi, including Milos Teodosic.

The Serbia international guard has played some of his best games since being named to the All-Star Five at the FIBA Basketball World Cup.

His 19 made three-pointers this season are the most in the competition and his average of 8.4 assists per game also ranks first.

Russia international Vitaly Fridzon is another big threat on the perimeter, shooting 41.7 percent (10 of 47) from beyond the arc. Fridzon is on quite a roll with at least one made three-pointer in 27 straight Euroleague games.

Another Russia player who is back to his best this season is Andrey Vorontsevich.

The 2.04m forward is hitting 68.8 percent (11 of 16) of his shots from inside the arc and 38.9 percent (seven of 18) beyond it while averaging 8.5 points per game.

Add in Nando De Colo, who exploded for 22 points last week at home against Alba Berlin, when he nailed all four of his three-balls, Russia center Sasha Kaun and three big-time players from the United States in slick ball-handling point guard Aaron Jackson, power forward Kyle Hines and 1.98 forward Sonny Weems, and Itoudis has a bevy of options to call upon.

"They are extra motivated after the big loss in Moscow," Weems said. "They need to fight in every game to ensure their position in the Top 16 and they are playing at home.

"Still I think we are in good shape, on a roll, and we are ready to continue playing well."