Maccabi Tel Aviv easily disposed of Hapoel Beer Sheva 98-74 as Tyler Dorsey and Deni Avdija led the way with 20 points a piece in the win. The Yellow & Blue locked down on defense over the second half to secure the victory and will now have a few days to rest and recuperate ahead of their next league game on Sunday against Maccabi Rishon Le’Zion.
Dorsey was close to recording a triple double as the guard grabbed 8 rebounds and 8 assists to go along with his 20 points. Avdija who was playing under the weather clocked in with 20 points, 7 rebounds and 3 assists along with 5 turnovers while playing a team high 33 minutes, while Amare Stoudemire began getting into the swing of things with his new team by notching 14 points and 6 boards in the win. Da’Sean Butler led Beer Sheva with 20 points, TJ Williams added 19 points while Steve Zack just finished short of a double-double with 9 points and 11 rebounds.
1) It’s fun watching Deni Avdija grow before ones very eyes. The 2020 NBA Draft Lottery prospect once again showed why he continues to climb in the draft rankings as he not only put on a terrific offensive display but also a defensive one as well. Whether it was boxing out, grabbing a key rebound or a simple deflection, Avdija just keeps on going. Coach Ioannis spoke about Avdija’s progress, “Deni is a multi-faceted weapon and one way was in to have him guard the point. I expect him to improve defensively. To play for Maccabi you need to be good at both ends of the court and I’m happy as to how he is playing and learning.” Game MVP Tyler Dorsey had this to say about his role on the court in helping nurture the younger players, “For sure they are getting better every game and we want to be the best at the end of the season. I was young and it’s all about confidence as he continues to play he will grow into that confidence.” Finally, Amare Stoudemire expressed his excitement playing with a player who he perhaps sees a bit of himself in, “I love playing with Deni. I love seeing and playing with a young guy with high expectations. It makes me work harder and want to work with him and it gives me a chance to teach the game of basketball as well. That’s the gift of being the veteran player.”
2) Although Deni Avdija had a fabulous game once again you could see something was bothering him throughout the 33 minutes of play and he revealed after the game that he was a bit sick as he commented about his performance, “It was Solid. I wasn’t in great shape today and was feeling a little bit sick but on defense I knew I could do better as I had 5 turnovers as well and I have to take care of the ball better. On offense I clicked today and I am happy with what I did, but there are also ways that I can improve.” The 19-year old is also content that there will some time off coming up as Euroleague play only resumes next Friday due to Cup weeks taking place all over Europe, “The rest days are very, very important. The staff do a great job in resting us so that we are fresh for every game and I hope that this can continue.” Speaking of the Euroleague, last week, Avdija picked up the Euroleague Players Association Player of the Week Award, “It was an honor. The Euroleague is a high level league and if you win the player of the week that means you did something good and that you are working hard. I’m just happy that the team is performing and doing well and winning games.”
3) Amare Stoudemire played close to 17 minutes, scored 14 points and added 6 rebounds in his best game to date with the Yellow & Blue. STAT seems to be happy with where he is in life both on and off of the court and knows that he will be a crucial part of the club by contributing what the staff deems as necessary, “I am here to do whatever the coaching staff needs me to do and accept the role that has been brought forth towards me. I am fine with that and the situation.” He also talked about his performance against Beer Sheva, “It felt great. It felt amazing and I wasn’t tired at all. I was cursing through and that’s a good sign to show that my health is great and that my condition is perfect. Thank God I feel pretty awesome.” What does Yehoshaphat see as being the key to his success with his new club? “It was good and I was able to build chemistry with my teammates and we get a chance to play with each other and learn each other so that will help us going forward.” Coach Sfairopoulos was content with his new big man’s showing, “It was his best game so far and I know he can play much better.” While Amare himself is just really happy to be back in the Holy Land, “I’m in a good space in my life. I am happy about life in general and I find joy in the mornings waking up and it’s a blessing to be in Israel. I always wanted to play here and I feel happiness every single morning.”
There’s no question that Maccabi not having to play in a pair of State Cup games this week is for the good as they need to get some serious R&R, as do many Euroleague teams who are playing in the Euroleague due to the many double weeks that those teams have to play. Teams that only have one or maximum two games a week are therefore at an advantage although the team of course wants to do the maximum Coach Sfairopoulos explained, “Of course we want to do as best as we can. The Cup is easier for a team that can win one game and there are a lot of surprises. We had played back to back in Euroleague and then Jerusalem who we lost to. It’s not easy to have the Cup game after two games and teams that only have one game are always less fatigued. EFES was knocked out of the Cup and they only have 3 losses. So it’s not easy.” Sfairopoulos also spoke about how Maccabi was able to take the win which was concentrating on defense and closing down the southern reds in half number two, “We had a great offensive game every period. We shot well from outside, high from inside and free throws, defensively we weren’t as good in the first half and they had a lot offensive rebounds and we allowed easy baskets. We played much better defense in the second half.” Tyler Dorsey as well pointed to the second half defense as being key to the victory, “We had a good half in the second and we cut down on the defensive end. That’s how we got the win.”
Hapoel Holon defeated Maccabi Haifa 88-82 as Marcus Foster scored a game high 27 points for Stefanos Dedas’s squad. Joe Alexander added 18 points while Ryan Thompson pitched in with 12 points in the win. Scott Suggs with 16 points and Michael Brisker with 13 points led Haifa in the loss.