1) Maccabi Haifa and Maccabi Tel Aviv lived up to its billing in a 2-2 draw that left both coaches and teams with a number of question marks surrounding them. The Greens scored 2 quick goals in the 7th and 8th minutes and it looked as if Barak Bachar’s club was going to slice and dice up the Yellow & Blue and send them back to Tel Aviv with a resounding loss. However, Giorgos Donis reacted swiftly and righted the ship quickly enough that his side was able to take full control of the game for the final hour, scored two goals and went home with a point. Credit to Donis for making the moves he needed to in order to get the game back under his team’s control, but he’s got to go back to the drawing board in order to find out why his opening formation didn’t work. For Bachar, once Giorgis adjusted he was unable to find a way through the armor and couldn’t figure out a way to counteract his counterparts moves which definitely left a sour taste in Haifa’s mouths. They had Maccabi on the ropes and couldn’t score the knockout punch. A missed opportunity.
Why has Maccabi Tel Aviv had problems in league play this season but have performed well in Europe? Donis answered the question with a very fine statement, the game is different in Europe. That’s true, 100% and we can see that as well between the Israeli basketball league compared to the Euroleague for example. Despite only collecting 3 points out of 12, there are plenty of points left with 22 more regular season games and Maccabi doesn’t have to worry yet (yet being the key word) about making them up. For the Yellow & Blue the priority MUST be the Europa League right now as each victory brings in about $600K straight to the coffers which are quite bare right now without being able to sell season tickets and to make losses in other areas.
There are 4 more games for Maccabi in the group stages with plenty of money still available and should they punch their ticket to the next round which amazingly they may be able to pretty much do with one more victory, there will be even more more at the end of the rainbow. The Israeli league can wait and fans don’t have to worry about that right now, just keep winning in Europe which is something that the club hasn’t been able to do since the 2013/14 campaign when they advanced to the Round of 32 against Basel. Maccabi has a deep squad that will continue to improve and sure the Israeli league results are concerning but if they’re winning in Europe then just keep going on that same path.
2) It was great to see Beitar Jerusalem’s Michael Ohana score a goal after three years and a couple of serious surgeries. But it was also great to see Yellow & Black newbie Yarden Shua assist on the goal. Shua has had a history of sorts to say the least making a number of stops in his young career and everyone at Beitar are hoping that the next time he leaves a team will be to go to Europe and a bigger team. With the guidance of a father figure in Beitar coaches Slobodan Drapic and Shay Barda they will surely take Shua under their wing and help him get every opportunity to succeed in the capital city. Perhaps all he really needs is a little love? We will find out soon enough.
3) Got to give credit to Raymond Atteveld for having his team in tip top shape and I wouldn’t have expected anything else. The Dutchman who played in the English Premier League with Everton and who worked alongside Patrick van Leeuwen at Maccabi Tel Aviv has been able to instill a sense of responsibility amongst the players as well as pride in what the do on the pitch. That translated into a 3-0 win over Kfar Saba as all of Atteveld’s engines were clicking on all cylinders as they put a quick and decisive end to any thought that the opposition would be able to make any headway at the Netanya Stadium.
4) Hadera went up to Kiryat Shemona and led for most of the way until they conceded a late goal to the hosts. But who else scored for Sharon Mimer’s squad? It was none other than Maxim Plakuschenko who had been with both Maccabi and Hapoel Haifa but never was given the chance to flourish into the star that he was destined to be. Get this though, he’s only 24 years old! He’s still owned by Maccabi Haifa on loan with Hadera and if he keeps up his pay he can surely see himself back in Green down the line. Another player to keep an eye on is Guy Ben Lulu the 20-year old who scored the equalizer in the 90th minute for K8.
5) Maccabi Petah Tikva have a number of young players who have been showing their worth for Guy Luzon after being promoted from the Leumit League. Libel Abada is a rising star while Tai Baribo and Or Inbrun continue to fill the goals. Credit to MPT and the way they have been developing their youngsters as their biggest and brightest gems Manor Solomon is making a name for himself across Europe with Shakhtar Donetsk after scoring the winner against Real Madrid.