Maccabi looks to stop Mike James while honoring Oded Katash & Doron Sheffer

Nov 17, 2021 | Holyland Hoops

Maccabi Tel Aviv welcomes Monaco for a Gameday 10 Euroleague date at Yad Eliyahu on Wednesday at 21:05 as the Yellow & Blue will look to get back on the winning track after having fallen at CSKA last week. Following the home clash, Maccabi will head to Piraeus where they will take on Olympiacos on Friday night.

On a night where the dynamic duo backcourt of Oded Katash and Doron Sheffer will be inducted into the Maccabi Tel Aviv Hall of Fame, a top Euroleague guard in his own right who began his career up at Hapoel Galil Elyon will pay a visit to Yad Eliyahu. A star guard that spent part of last season with the Brooklyn Nets and one who always seems to up his game when he arrives in the Holy Land in none other than Mike James.

James’ numbers may be down this season but that doesn’t mean he’s not a threat to go off for more than 20+ points on any given night especially when facing the likes of Maccabi Tel Aviv where he has scored 10, 25, 22, 16, 19, 27, 17 for an average of 19.43 points per game when he sees the Yellow & Blue.

Running one of the Euroleague’s most potent offenses now may also be a reason why James’s stats dropped a bit because he’s got to share the wealth a bit and also doesn’t need to take so much upon himself as he used to.

However, Coach Ioannis Sfairopoulos is well aware that he will need to stop James in order to stop Monaco, “Mike James is always a big threat and on a good day he can kill anybody. We have to focus on him and not let him do what he likes to do on the court. We have to focus one-on-one and by the team, this is how we stop him.”

Keenan Evans: Photo credit- Dov Halickman

Keenan Evans who did not play in the double overtime Israeli league win earlier this week will most probably be tasked with trying to stop James. There is no reason to think that he won’t be able to do just that but he is also well aware of the fact that he will need help to halt the star.

“You prepare for him like you would anyone,” Evans said. “Watch clips and see their weaknesses and strengths and try to take advantage of that. He loves to keep to his right hand we we’ll try to send him the other way. We have to come out here and try to make it tough for them on the offensive end and make it tough on the other end as well.”

Another one of Sfairopoulos’s rocks on defense who also didn’t play against Eilat in Angelo Caloiaro understands that Monaco is lethal on the attack and that the entire team will need to help stop one Mike James.

“Their offense is top three in the Euroleague for a reason. They are big and athletic. It’s going to be tough. It’s the team and not one person. You have a guy on the ball and the rest on the help side. You can’t defend him by himself as the other four guys have to fill in the gaps.”

Angelo Caloiaro – Photo Credit: Dov Halickman

The Maccabi bench boss will have to make sure that his team can keep up with Monaco especially after having played 50 minutes Monday night while some of Monaco’s top players in James, Donatas Montiejunas, Will Thomas and Dwayne Bacon to name a few didn’t even dress for their French League walkover by about 40 points against Cholet.

“Monaco has a lot of players that can cause us problems. They are a team that can control the rhythm very well and if they do they can score really easy. We want to be concentrated for 40 minutes and match up to their energy. We may be a little fatigued, but we have to stay focussed and most important is the mental preparation to continue to play these games.”

Before tip-off Maccabi fans will be privileged to see Oded Katash’s and Doron Sheffer’s banners being raised to the rafters of Yad Eliyahu. Both were significant contributors to the club as well as European basketball as a whole whether it was winning championships for Maccabi or helping capture European titles with Panathinaikos (over Maccabi in Katash’s case) and Hapoel Jerusalem (over Real Madrid in the ULEB Cup).

“I’m very happy for my club that Maccabi gives recognition and credit to the former players and they don’t forget players who fought and succeeded with their team. Sometimes we forget the past, they deserve it and I’m very happy that we will have this ceremony. I remember playing against them and it was not easy.”

“Both were very crucial and important for Maccabi and Oded was one of the most talented players. He danced with the ball, scoring passing and creating for the others. Everybody had their role during those years, they both have the spirit of Maccabi.”

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