Hapoel Tel Aviv continues their EuroCup campaign against Badalona on Tuesday (19:30) in Spain as the Reds will look to get back onto the winning track in continental play. Danny Franco’s squad came up short last week to Ronen “Neno” Ginzburg’s Prometey in Belgrade and sit with a record of 11-5 good for second place but London Lions with the same record in third place as well as Badalona in 4th at 10-6 are breathing right down their necks.
One of Badalona’s most dynamic players is former Israeli league guard Andrew Andrews who featured for both Hapoel Afula when they were in the Leumit League along with Maccabi Haifa during the end of the Corona season.
While Andrews may not play against Hapoel Tel Aviv due to an injury that has kept him out for a couple of games, The Sports Rabbi did catch up with the University of Washington product to discuss the club’s season thus far, his time in Israel. whether Badlaona is Barcelona’s second team and what it’s like playing in the strongest domestic league in Europe, the ACB.
“ACB is a great league, it’s well known as being one of the best domestic league’s in the world, I’m enjoying myself. One of the things I noticed about the ACB is that the teams are focussed on chemistry whereas a lot of other places the rosters bounce around year to year to year and that’s hard to fine chemistry in a quick amount of time. It usually takes time for those teams to play better later on while in the ACB a team has a core group of guys and they only bring in 1-2 imports each year so teams know each other and know how to play with each other. That’s a big reason why the ACB is so well known.”
Being in a suburb of Barcelona always brings up the question of Badalona is the sec on team in the city, however, Andrews doesn’t see it that way whatsoever, “I can’t tell if we are the second team or the first team in Barcelona because our fanbase is so great, you rarely see any Barca flags unless you go deep into Barcelona. Everything here is Badalona and honestly both of us are trying to chase Real Madrid right now and they’re on fire so I think that’s something we don’t really worry about we just make sure that we are playing good at the end of the year.”
The club’s management takes both the EuroCup and ACB very seriously and are one of the top teams in both. With that in mind if a player that can help the team becomes available Joventut will jump at the opportunity should it improve the squad which is exactly the reason why they signed Shannon Evans who recently played in the Euroleague and what that means to the players as a group.
“That means we have expectations. Shannon is an amazing player and once he gets around us more and gets the chemistry he will fit seamlessly. You can tell what he brings and I have known Shannon since college where I played against him and a couple of times as a pro. I know what he brings to the table and I think he is a great addition.”
Badalona also has a player in Pau Ribas who has been playing at the highest levels for many years including a lengthy term with Barcelona which gives the club plenty of experience, “He brings wisdom to the team, he’s mild mannered in a sense that he doesn’t let the game rile him whether he is making shots or missing shots he is going to take the same shots and that’s what you need at this level. Guys to take the right shot whether they make or miss it. Some guys who play in Europe no start missing a couple of shots stop taking the good ones and that’s bad basketball.”
Andrews was born in Portland, Oregon back in 1993 and with such a unique name, he shared the story as to how and why it is Andrew Andrews.
“I was adopted in family and I was born Andrew Ray. I was adopted by my aunt and the family’s last name was Andrews so my brother whose last name is Andrews is really my cousin so in order for us to make it seem seem less I changed my name to Andrew Andrews and that’s the story!”
The guard played his college ball at the University of Washington which saw plenty of players who would one day make their way to the NBA, “I talk to a lot of the guys who are in the NBA, we all kind of stick together I see them when I go up there in the summer. Isaiah Thomas puts on a Zeke Pro Am where I see the guys and chat it’s all love at UW.”
Following his time in college, Andrews played with the Charlotte Hornets in NBA preseason action and then it was on to Europe and the G-League before making a stop in Israel with Afula and where he had a wonderful experience and would one day be happy to return to play in the Holy Land.
“Afula signed a couple of guys I know and I was hyped, I went on their page and liked it! One big memory was Shabbat. I loved how there is a couple of days for the family and that was something I told everyone about when I went back home. Just how relaxed it was living in Israel and living right next to the water in Haifa. Tel Aviv is like Miami and you can’t get any better than Tel Aviv, I loved the food and it was kind expensive but everything was there for me. I would love to play in Israel again.”
As Andrews continued to develop as a player, he joined Panathinaikos but his time in Athens ended prematurely, however, during his stint with the Greens he showed to himself and the basketball world at large that he is no question a player who can feature at the highest level of European hoops.
“I definitely want to be in the Euroleague and I believe that I am a Euroleague player as well. I’m not at the stage now where I’m trying to prove myself to get there. When I was at here last year for a little bit I played really well so for me now it’s about maintaining and trying to win basketball games. At the end of the day that is what is going to get me there show that I can compete in EuroCup and hopefully that at this stage you can get to the Euroleague. I want to just do well and not force it because if try and force it you then start playing for yourself and at this point I want to play for the team and play to win.”
There are plenty of people who believe that Badalona can win the EuroCup with the squad that they have and of course Andrews thinks so as well, “I believe so. I think that with the EuroCup format anything is possible. We have a lot of young players and we have so older players as well. So with the addition of Shannon I think we should be able to compete. We have a shot at the EuroCup it’s just a matter of us putting it together. Consistency, playing well in the game is something that you can’t always control but you can control how you can prepare and if we prepare the right way we put ourselves in the best position to play well.
Finally, Andrews looked at their upcoming opponent in Hapoel Tel Aviv, “They are definitely playing the way they should be playing and they have a lot of high caliber players. Some guys who haven’t made a huge name on the scene but this year they have, Jaylen Hoard has been playing amazing and everyone knows Xavier Munford as he is doing his thing. John Holland is playing well in the rotation. They are well coached and it’s going to be a battle. They got us when we were in Belgrade by 4 points so we definitely know that it’s going to be a game where we have to come on full throttle and hopefully come out with a win.”