Maccabi Tel Aviv travels to Germany for a date with Bayern Munich in Euroleague action on Thursday at 21:45 Israel time. The Yellow & Blue enter the matchup with a 10-13 record after falling last week to Milano while Bayern comes into the contest 15-10 and as one of the surprise teams of the competition.
One of the relatively new faces on Andrea Trinchieri’s roster is ex-Maccabi guard DJ Seeley who featured in Israel during the 2016/17 season who is making his Euroleague return under the Italian maestro since his time in Yellow & Blue. Seeley joined Bayern midway through the campaign from Zaragoza in the ACB League and has helped shore up the backcourt averaging 9.7 points and 3 assists in 13 games thus far in continental play.
The Sports Rabbi had the opportunity to speak with Seeley about his Euroleague return, playing under Trinchieri, his one season in Yellow & Blue from the highs to the lows as well as how it affected his career since ahead of the tip.
Following a year and a half at Zaragoza where the Cal State Fullerton product shared a backcourt with Carlos Alocen the up and coming Spanish youngster and now Real Madrid guard, Seeley was able to hone his game while playing a leadership role which certainly helped him get back to the top competition.
“It feels good to be back in the Euroleague, to compete at a high level and in a playoff race,” began Seeley.
The combo guard has played for a number of teams since his Maccabi days including Gran Canaria together with Gal Mekel whom he got to know from their season with the Yellow & Blue as well as Rytas Vilnius under current Hapoel Jerusalem coach Dainius Adomaitis who he described as a “good one.”
With Bayern however, Seeley is now learning from one of the best in the business, the always colorful coach Andrea Trinchieri who can add so much to any player’s repertoire, “I’m learning the game everyday from coach Trinchieri and he’s very good with the mental aspect of the game. He has his sets and he knows what he is doing which is a great thing. He explains the basics and X’s and O’s really well and gets the guys going.”
During the 2016/17 at Maccabi Tel Aviv the coaching carousel never came to stop with no less than five bench bosses taking to the sidelines at Yad Eliyahu. “I don’t even remember how many coaches we had that season,” the Redding California native responded with a chuckle.
“It was maybe four or five. Can I name them? Oh my God it’s a long list, like a scroll. But I kept my composure the entire season and did my best day in and day out.”
(For the record the five coaches were Erez Edelstein, Rami Hadar, Lior Lubin, Ainars Bagatskis and Aril Shivek)
However, despite a tough season in Yellow & Blue, there were some high points including a surprising Israel State Cup win over favorites Hapoel Jerusalem in the capital city. “That was a good one right there. In a season with so many ups and downs, that was one high point of the season to enjoy especially when no one expected us to win it.”
But after a poor season overall for the team, the aftereffects on the squad were devastating. Maccabi offloaded the likes of Andrew Goudelock, Victor Rudd, Colton Iverson, Quincy Miller, Guy Pnini as well as Seeley for the following campaign under the newly appointed Neven Spahija.
There is no question that Seeley felt this was one of the main reasons it took him over three years to get back to the top of the European game setting his career back some, “Exactly. I think it did.” But now that he’s returned he can’t wipe the smile off of his face as he prepares to go toe to toe with one of his past teams, “I am excited and it feels good.”