Deni Avdija will be heading to North America very soon as he prepares for the 2020 NBA Draft and combine after helping Maccabi Tel Aviv capture their 54th championship. In honor of the Israeli phenom being named the Israel Basketball WINNER League’s Most Valuable Player and how wears uniform #8, let’s look at his eight most important and defining games this past season.
8. 81-66 Maccabi Tel Aviv win over Maccabi Rishon Le’Zion in the first game of the Israeli league season
Avdija came into his first game with high expectations after he led the Israel Under-20 Team to the European Championship over the summer and was named the MVP of the entire tournament. At 18-years old, Avdija led the way with 15 points at Rishon’s home gym, Beit Maccabi going 2/4 from beyond the arc and leaving Israeli basketball fans thirsting for more.
7. 86-81 Maccabi Tel Aviv falls to Hapoel Eilat on Gameday 18
This is the only defeat amongst the eight games but is one of note for Avdija. Yellow-and-blue coach Ioannis Sfairopoulos’s squad headed to the Red Sea city with many players missing from the squad due to injuries and had only 7 regular players available. Avdija took the bull by the horns and notched his career high of 26 points, hitting 3/4 from deep and drew 11 fouls in 38 minutes of action. However, a 5/13 night from the free throw line did Maccabi in as they fell for the first time in the season.
6. 114-82 Maccabi Tel Aviv victory against Maccabi Ashdod on Gameday 22
This was the first game back after the coronavirus break and despiser being off for a number of months, Avdija showed that he had worked hard during the time away from the game. 23 points., 7 rebounds and 5 assists with a pair of triples and going 7/8 from the charity stripe in 24 minutes was only part of the story. Avdija not only worked on his game but his fitness as well showing some serious muscle while recording a career high efficiency rating of 36.
5. 93-82 Maccabi Tel Aviv win over Hapoel Jerusalem on Gamday 28
Maccabi Tel Aviv and Deni Avdija traveled to the nation’s capital to take on Oded Katash’s Jerusalem side in a terrific top of the standings battle. Avdija had plenty of problems with the Reds all season long so this was a date that he circled to make his presence felt and fled it was with 15 points, 6 boards and 4 assists along with 4 steals in 31 minutes of action. Add to that a massive dunk and Avdija helped lead his team to a big win over Jerusalem.
4. Maccabi Tel Aviv 80-77 over Khimki Moscow on Euroleague Gameday 23
Sfairopoulos’s squad came back home after two disappointing Euroleague losses as they looked to move closer to securing a playoff position in the continent’s best competition. Avdija played a Euroleague career high 26 minutes and came to within one rebound of a double-double as he scored 11 points, pulled down 9 boards and added 4 assists with an efficiency rating of 18 in a dramatic and crucial victory.
3. Maccabi Tel Aviv 94-83 win over Hapoel Holon on Gameday 15
Up until this point, Avdija had been an important rotation player for Maccabi but had not been a primary ball handler. However, on January 11th against Hapoel Holon that all changed. Maccabi’s star guard Scottie Wilbekin was unavailable for the clash and Avdija took control of the offense from the point as he dished out 5 assists and added 22 points with 4 triples in 27 minutes of play. Avdija also played in the post and was all over the court for the yellow-and-blue in an important victory for Maccabi.
2. Maccabi Tel Aviv 83-68 win over Hapoel Tel Aviv in game 3 of the quarterfinals
Avdija and Maccabi Tel Aviv came into the decisive contest of their best of three quarterfinal series with the Reds all knotted up at a game a piece without their on court leader Scottie Wilbekin who was suspended and unavailable to play. With a massive amount of pressure on the club facing elimination for the first time ever prior to the semifinal round and against their arch rival nonetheless, Coach Sfairopoulos needed Avdija more than ever. After finishing game two with no points, 4 turnovers and a minus 3 in 22 minutes in a brutal loss at the Drive In Arena, the phenom knew he would have to take the bull by the horns and come up big which was exactly what he did. 22 points, 10 rebonds, 3 steals and an efficiency rating of 30 was just what the doctor ordered despite having tuned over the ball 6 times he also drew 6 fouls in 37 minutes. Together with Tyler Dorsey, Avdija with a double-double helped Maccabi advance to the Final Four and eventually to the club’s 54th league title.
1. Maccabi Tel Aviv 78-77 over Fenerbahce on Gameday 24 in the Euroleague
After a tremendous performance on Gameday 23 against Khimki Moscow, Avdija wanted to continue his positive momentum and traveled with Maccabi to Turkey for a date with Fenerbahce. Avdija didn’t let the Istanbul faithful get to him and exploded for 13 points going 3/5 from long distance in 21 minutes. However, the real story was how Avdija scored his points which included a step back triple similar to Luka Doncic and of course the now world famous posterizing dunk on former NBA forward Gigi Datome which was voted as the Euroleague’s Magic Moment of the Season. The massive slam put the 19 year old on the map for good as Maccabi picked up one of the most dramatic victory of the season over the legendary coach Željko Obradović.