Maccabi Tel Aviv walked over Hapoel Gilboa Galil 99-76 at Yad Eliyahu. The yellow-and-blue ran out to a 30-18 lead after the first quarter and never looked back as they demolished an undermanned Galilee squad in a game that was never in doubt from the get go. Captain Jake Cohen starred with 22 points and 9 points, 2020 NBA Draft Lottery prospect Deni Avdija scored 16 points, added 7 assists and grabbed 5 rebounds while Tyler Dorsey chipped in with 15 points in the win. Edgar Sosa led Gilboa Galil with 22 points.
1) Maccabi’s win as they say was “never in doubt” from the get go. Without an injured Justin Tillman and Jarmar Gulley who was hurt just a couple of minutes into the game and Lior Lubin’s team was left dead in the water with a rudder and certainly without oars. You would have never have known that Ioannis Sfairopoulos’s side had just played a Euroleague game just shy of 48 hours earlier. They played crisp, exciting and offensive basketball for 40 minutes without taking their foot off of the gas. “We had a good game offensively, one of our best in the Israeli league,” said a satisfied Sfairopoulos. “We started very concentrated and had a double digit lead after the first quarter. I’m happy how we focused and that we approached the game with seriousness.” Jake Cohen added, “I thought we had a great night to night, every win in the Israeli League is important as coach tells us. A few things to correct but we moved the ball well and scored almost 100 points.”
2) “Jake is my secret weapon, whenever I need him he’s there,” said Sfairopoulos. “I am happy how professional he is, his mentality and how he helps the team. This is the best example of professionalism and he’s an example for not only our team but every team.” Speaking of Jake Cohen, how about the captain’s performance? 22 points and 9 boards in close to 28 minutes, he has been the anchor for the club in the domestic competition, game in and game out. The Davidson product is averaging 11.5 points, 5.5 rebounds and 2.5 assists this season in 23.5 minutes per game in the Israeli league and he continues to get better and better. Cohen spoke about being able to bring the same intensity to both the domestic league as they do in Europe which had not been the case for a number of seasons, “We’ve been able to learn from our mistakes and get used to the schedule. It’s beneficial to stay focused and stay ready. I talk to the guys about it and the group we have is professional and they take it seriously. The guys are playing hard and playing to win.” One final thing about Cohen. He’s been averaging 5.5 points in 13 minutes per game in Euroleague play. He only came onto the court near the end of the third quarter but he could have been much more effective for Maccabi earlier in the game. I understand that Acy needs minutes to get back into the swing of things but Cohen could have been an x-factor much earlier on. Just some food for thought.
3) Amare Stoudemire looks better and better each time out as the 6x NBA All-Star scored 9 points to go along with 5 rebounds in almost 20 minutes of action. STAT hasn’t yet featured much in the Euroleague, but there is no question that his time will come as he continues to fine tune his play but also as he works on the defensive side of his game which is crucial in continental play, “Another win is perfect and we are just trying to sharpen up. Each game we’re getting better and better. I got into a good rhythm defensively and the offense will come as I was really trying to focus on the defensive end.” Cohen also knows how important Amare is to the squad and what he can bring to the table both on and off of the court, “He’s been great and it’s hard to come in into the middle of the season. He’s an added weapon for us and provides depth. He brings the fact that he was a 6 time NBA All-Star and he has a wealth of knowledge that we all benefit from.” Finally, Avdija had this to say about Yehoshaphat, “He brings experience and motivation. What he brings at the age of 37 is amazing. He’s working hard before practice and he’s just a fun person to be around.”
One of the great things about Gilboa Galil is to see some of the young Israelis getting playing time including guard Gil Beni, Yotam Hanochi, Netanel Artzi and Ido Flaisher. The big man of the group Flaisher has seen marked improvement in his play and continues to grow into his role. Playing 20 minutes, scoring 9 points and adding 4 rebounds is solid and he’s not the only one who is playing more than 10 minutes a game, all of the above are. Credit to Coach Lior Lubin. “The young Israelis have been great and we are looking at how they have advanced this season. Ido is playing well and he’s a big positive. He’s always improving and getting better. We’re happy he’s with us and we can see how he’s doing well.”