“The X-Factor Guys,” that’s how Lorenzo Brown described both Jarell Martin and Roman Sorkin who both brought their “A” game in Maccabi Tel Aviv’s 85-66 win over Milano. Every team needs those guys who can come in a be a game changer by either hitting a huge shot just in the nick of time or put down a big dunk to electrify the crowd.
In both Martin and Sorkin’s case this as true yet again as the pair were able to play a crucial role in the yellow-and-blue’s 6th Euroleague victory in a row that moved them ever so close to a playoff spot what a 19-13 record.
While the dynamic duo of Lorenzo Brown and Wade Baldwin make many of the headlines with their fabulous play, denser and determination, the pair can’t do it all alone despite being credited by coaches Sergio Scariolo and Ettore Messina as being the best in the competition, both of which have seen their fare share of terrific players.
Sure, every team needs their stars, but they also need players who can also do the little things, whether it’s defense, rebounding, hitting the big shot or just coming in off the bench to mix things up and make an impact on the game.
In Martin and Sorkin’s cases they have made a difference in many a game this season and the win over Milano was no different. Whether it was Sorkin’s 18 points with dunks galore as well as plenty of points in the paint or Martin’s clutch triples that find the bottom of the basket just when the team needed them most. Both players are often just what the doctor ordered.
“Martin is that type of clutch player,” Maccabi coach Oded Katash said of the forward following the game. “He has been hitting these shots all season and we knew his upside from the start of the season. He has had to adjust to the European game and this competition is at a very high level. In general players who don’t have Euroleague experience have struggled at the start of the season, but the ability to hit those big shots are key and he’s not the only player on this team who has done this for us.”
Sorkin in fact would be one of those other players that Katash mentioned and his contribution especially in the first half was very crucial in helping build up Maccabi’s 17-point lead at halftime as the Israelis scored 16 of his 18 points over the course of the opening 20 minutes.
“I am really happy for Roman,” veteran big man Jake Cohen said. “he did it against a really tough Milan team. Kyle Hines is very good and he did a good job on him. It’s fun to be around Roman and I’m really proud of him.”
Sorkin himself wanted to stay humble and low-key, crediting his teammates for his success, “It’s my teammates who find me and get the ball to me. We got into the flow of our game and it’s really all the credit to my teammates.”
Martin as well, tried to hide from taking any kudos that was coming his way while also understanding that once Maccabi would get rolling the team would be unstoppable, “I knew with these guys and with the staff that we have that we would succeed. I also knew that we had the talent and that we just needed time to figure it out and once we would click, things would be smooth for us. As for my own play, I have to give that to my teammates, they do a great job in finding me and they give me the confidence to knock the shot down.”
While the two ran far away from taking any credit for their important contribution to the win, Both Cohen and Lorenzo Brown couldn’t speak more highly of what they mean to the team.
“He made those shots when we really needed it and when we didn’t have anything going offensively,” Cohen said of Martin. “That definitely sparked the comeback when when they were making a run, he’s ice cold. So it was huge and it helped us a lot.”
“Jarell has been very clutch this year. Quiet guy, but you got to watch out for the quiet ones. He can do everything, he can dribble, he can shoot, he can jump, play defense guard 1-5 he plays a big part of this team, he is one of those X-Factor guys like Ro (Roman Sorkin) and Bonzie (Colson) these guys are much appreciated on this team. He’s got to keep it going as it’s his first year out here but I think he’ll be fine in this league over the next few years.”
Martin in turn spoke about how important Brown and his backcourt mate Baldwin have been for Maccabi, “They are definitely the best backcourt to me in the Euroleague. They are incredible what they bring to the table for our team, the leadership roles, they have been tremendous for us.”
But that is exactly what makes this Maccabi team special, each and every player never looks to take an ounce of credit while always talking about a teammate who made the difference with a big bucket or two. It’s always we, we, we and we and never me, me, me and me which is what Katash believes in the real secret to the team’s success this season.
“I said from the start of the season that the one advantage that we had over every other team was our character. We like one another and we are unselfish. How far will it take us? We will have to rely on our hunger. We don’t have that much EuroLeague experience but the hunger is what will propel us.”
That hunger has taken Maccabi to just a hair away from punching their ticket to the playoffs and will now just either have to wait for one of Partizan Belgrade, Zalgiris or Baskonia lose on Friday night, or just have to wait until next week when they visit Lithuania to beat Zalgiris in order to make postseason plans.
“It feels great,” Martin said. “We have been picking up momentum each game and getting better each game, the momentum and pace we have right now is great. We are one of the top teams and when we are locked in and focussed the sky is the limit for us.”
“We just got to stay focussed and stay locked in. The job is not done and we got to keep working on our things, I know it’s tough as there are teams in a bunch fighting for the playoffs and we need to wait to see what happens but we are locked in and ready so no matter what happens, we will be ready.”
“I wouldn’t say it’s frustrating [that we haven’t clinched yet] ,” Brown noted. “Because this whole year has been a little weird with the records. We just have to stay positive, worry about ourselves because that’s the only thing we can worry about.”
“The secret to our success is the hard work and staying positive. It’s been an up and down season for us, but I feel that we have a group of guys with a head on their shoulders. If we can continue to do that the sky’s the limit for us.”