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Spahija v2.0 – Confidence, Trust, Faith & Belief in the Yellow & Blue

Dov Halickman Photography

Maccabi Tel Aviv defeated Valencia 94-91 in dramatic fashion as Erick Green missed a game tying 3-pointer with second remaining to hand the Yellow & Blue the win. With Maccabi up 90-81 and 40 seconds on the clock, Valencia quickly cut down the advantage to just 3-points but Erick Green couldn’t get a good look and missed the shot that would’ve sent the game into overtime. Pierre Jackson scored 21 points, Deshaun Thomas 20 points while Art Parakhouski dropped 14 points in the victory. Erick Green scored 24 points as Fernando San Emeterio added 15 second half points in the defeat.

3-Pointers
1) There was talk after the game surrounding why Maccabi Coach Neven Spahija didn’t foul on Valencia’s last possession when the Yellow & Blue held a 3-point 94-91 lead, thereby eliminating the chance that the visitors could tie up the game with a last gasp shot from beyond the arc. In fact, Erick Green did get off a 3-pointer that went off the rim and out to safety with 4 seconds remaining. Spahija was pressed at the post game press conference to say why he decided not to foul and his answer was that that’s what he decided without going into details. I believe the answer is obvious as to why he didn’t foul; because you don’t do that in the NBA. You’ll never see a team in the NBA foul when leading to put their opponent on the line for free points. Never. That’s loser basketball. Have confidence in your defense and that what he did. Spahija believed in his players when the game was on the line and that’s something that will go a long way the rest of this season. His faith and trust in all of his players from top to bottom and you know that will resonate with all of them as well. That’s why Spahija v2.0 is a different coach than Spahija v1.0 from over a decade ago. That’s the beauty of the Croatian mastermind. He’s been able to take experiences from all of his stops to become the coach that he is today. Congrats on a decision that will pay off dividends later on this campaign.

2) Art Parakhouski has been brilliant over the last couple of games for the Yellow & Blue and has been an important piece of the team from day one. Offensively he’s been solid and has contributed in the wins over Valencia and Zalgiris, but his presence has been felt from day one. When was the last time Maccabi had a big center that can start games off in a physical fashion? It’s been a while. Art was a happy camper and credited his teammates in the locker-room following the victory: “We played good team basketball tonight even though we started the game a bit slowly. They were shooting from all over and it was not easy to make defensive stops against them. We have a great group of guys here and our chemistry is improving from game to game.” Spahija also commented on the big man’s play while also admonishing the press for their negativity towards the Belarusian: “Art is a really good player and I am happy with his performance tonight very much. He missed some defensive rebounds that I’ll be after him about that,” he said with a smile.

3) Erick Green is the type of player that can win games and lose games as well. He ended the evening with 24 points, half coming on free throws. We’ve seen other players like Erick McCollum come into Yad Eliyahu with EFES and dominate a contest and Green is that type of player. Was Spahija happy with how he was limited? “We did a pretty good job and he took a lot of fouls. He is good going to the right and going to the left and knows how to take a good pump fake which makes players jump, but overall I can’t complain. It was close to his average.” Norris Cole also chimed in, “Erick is a good shooter and he had a good game but we made sure to get the win.” John Dibartolomeo who played a solid 17 minutes including a stretch near the end of the 4th quarter also spoke about the importance of picking up the W, “Not an easy game but we won. It was close near the end but we made sure to secure the win.” However, Maccabi frittered away a 9-point lead late in the game which put them into a situation where Green had a chance to tie it up as DeAndre Kane said, “It was a tough game and a tough 4th quarter. Valencia did not give up and were able to hit some tough shots that kept them in the game.” In Euroleague action, it’s never quite over.

Overtime
Fernando San Emeterio picked up 2 fouls in only 3:32 minutes of play in the first quarter sending him to the bench with 0 points. But what we saw in the third frame was classic San Emeterio scoring 10 of Valencia’s 19 points and keeping his team in the game. Spahija wasn’t content with the Yellow & Blue’s play to stop one of the all-time Maccabi Killer’s, “We should have played way better defense. That (San Emerterio) was more of a problem for me than what Green did.” That’s high compliments to #19 who spoke exclusively to The Sports Rabbi following the game about competing with a short rotation, adjusting and playing like a team: WATCH