“Scottie is Scottie” – Wilbekin stars for Maccabi on special night for Katash & Sheffer

Nov 18, 2021 | Holyland Hoops

“Scottie is Scottie and he is ready to do and will do what the team needs to do to win. If he needs to pass he will pass, if he needs to shoot he will shoot, if he will need to play defense he will play defense he played great defense and had 8 assists as well. the fans love him.” – Maccabi coach Ioannis Sfairopoulos

On a night where two of Maccabi Tel Aviv’s star guards were inducted into the club’s Hall of Fame, their current star guard put on a performance worthy of a place one day in the team’s version of Cooperstown, Canton or Springfield.

Scottie Wilbekin’s 37 points matched a game high in Euroleague play as the Florida product equaled Sarunas Jasikevicius’s mark which was set on April 8, 2004 in the “Zalgiris Miracle” game. That contest itself may be remembered by Derrick Sharp’s desperation heave at the end of regulation to send the game into overtime which was eventually won by the yellow-and-blue and propelled them into the Final Four which was being hosted in Tel Aviv.

Oded Katash and Doron Sheffer – Photo Credit: Dov Halickman

Saras made his most recent visit to Yad Eliyahu a couple of weeks ago when his Barcelona team fell to Maccabi, but on this night it were the two guards who preceded the Lithuanian magician who were feted by Maccabi in Oded Katash and Doron Sheffer or simply put, KATASHEFFER!

The two floor generals led the yellow-and-blue in the late 90’s and were responsible for orchestrating what would be beautiful basketball on the parquet whether in the Israeli league or in Europe. They were head and shoulders above the rest as Katash could have been the first Israeli in the NBA while Sheffer was the first Israeli drafted by an NBA team. Forever, the duo will be linked with greatness, each having to suffer through their own challenges whether it was Katash and his brutal knee injury or Sheffer battling cancer, they each were able to overcome and be the people they are today.

Scottie Wilbekin – Photo Credit: Dov Halickman

Since arriving at Maccabi in 2018, Wilbekin has been spectacular and a true all-star in every sense of the word both on and off of the court. Whether it has been winning shots, clutch shots, any type of shot in fact, Wilbekin had been the star of stars while also becoming a fan favorite from day one which took his relationship with the country to an entirely different level this past spring.

When Hamas were launching wave after wave after wave of missiles into the center of the country targeting Tel Aviv, Scottie and his wife Maria Wilbekin were steadfast in their support for their adopted home country. Whether it was on television or social media, the Wilbekins made it clear that they were not going anywheres and would not leave the Holy Land.

Their public statements of support for the State of Israel meant everything to a people under attack by the enemy and they will forever be related to as the stars of stars where one day Wilbekin will also see his jersey be hoisted to hang alongside the other Maccabi greats.

Scottie Wilbekin – Photo Credit: Dov Halickman

Wilbekin didn’t even know that he had equaled Saras’s record and looked surprised when he found out, “I didn’t know that, in fact I didn’t know a lot about European basketball before I got here. I was hitting shots. My teammates did a good job of finding me. It all went well for me tonight. This win was huge and double weeks are hard, if you can get two wins it’s huge and we made the first step.”

How did Wilbekin manage to play 33 minutes at the highest of levels without a shade of exhaustion with the thought of yet another Euroleague game coming up after clocking in with 44 minutes just a few nights ago in a double overtime Israeli league win over Hapoel Eilat?

“It helps having Keenan Evans and Kam Taylor as they keep a lot of pressure on defense and they guard the best scorer on the other team. They did a great job on Mike James and if you can put up a hand and not let him make easy shots it does wonders and they did a great job tonight.”

Mike James seemed to be an afterthought following the game as Wilbekin won the round against one of his guard rivals by knockout as the former Brooklyn Nets player scored a quiet 14 points while not influencing the game on iota.

Mike James – Photo Credit: Dov Halickman

“We had point guard problems after Leo Westermann went out injured,” Monaco coach Zvezdan Mitrovic said. “Mike was 1/9 from three and you can’t win with these numbers. He had to take the ball and organize the offense, but it’s tough for him to play 35 minutes. That’s too much, it would have been a totally different game if we had a point a guard.”

Maccabi was able to stop James from doing any real damage thanks to the effort that Evans and Taylor made on him as Wilbekin had explained as Sfairopoulos took one step further in his comments about how James could have been the deciding factor in any game he takes part in.

“Mike James can judge a game and in a good game he can score and create. He’s talented and it was very important that our defense was focused on him and he didn’t play one of his good game. I said that we can’t just focus just in him because they are really talented, we had to face them as a team.”

And as a team they did but offensively only six Maccabi players scored in this game with Wilbekin being above everyone else.

Scottie Wilbekin – Photo Credit: Dov Halickman

“Scottie is a heck of a player and leads by example,” big man Jalen Reynolds said. “He was struggling a bit but we know what he is as a player and when he is playing like that, we can feed off of it. When he is at the top of his game everyone is at the top of their games.”

“I haven’t been shooting the ball well from 3,” Wilbekin explained. “It was good to get a good number today and my coaches and teammates believe in me to make those shots. It feels good when they go in. It feel like I was in the rhythm. When I was able to get open and I made couple like that it then boosts you and you can make the tougher shots as well.”

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