Maccabi Tel-Aviv will receive the visit of FC Barcelona in Round 19 of Turkish Airlines Euroleague. This will be a huge game with great expectations from both teams and I’m sure that Maccabi’s fans will be at a high level on Tuesday. In their first meeting, Barcelona hammered the Israeli powerhouse 96-73, thanks to Nikola Mirotic who ended with 25 points and 14 rebounds in 27 minutes. Let’s see what they’ve done during the weekend.
Maccabi played away at Hapoel Holon and won the game 94-83. They defended very well from 3-point shots, with Holon finishing the game with 8-30 from distance, while Maccabi had 12-24. The star of the night was the young player Deni Advija who scored 22 points, a new career-high for him, alongside 4 rebounds and 5 assists. Tyler Dorsey (17 points and 5 assists) and Othello Hunter (14 points and 9 rebounds) also had big contributions. Tarik Black, Omri Casspi and John Dibartolomeu are out, but players like Scottie Wilbekin, Othello Hunter or Nate Wolters are back which means they will have a long roster available for this clash.
Barcelona suffered a defeat in the weekend against Bilbao Basket 94-92 in overtime. That was a huge surprise for basketball fans because everybody expected a nice display from Barcelona after the loss suffered at home against Anadolu Efes. Bilbao is on a 5 game winning streak and now is placed on 5th place with better records than Valencia, Baskonia or Unicaja. With this win, they secured a place in the Spanish Cup. Barcelona led almost the entire game but lost focus on final seconds of the game when Ben Lammers made an offensive rebound and scored 2 points with only 2 seconds remaining. In overtime, Barcelona had 9 shots and made only 3, while Bilbao had 5 and made 3. The main contributors for Barcelona were Nikola Mirotic (24 points and 9 rebounds), Malcolm Delaney (15 points and 4 rebounds) and Cory Higgins (14 points). The only absences are Kevin Pangos and Thomas Heurtel.
I expect a very noisy crowd in Tel-Aviv and with their support, Maccabi can win this game. They have a very good and large roster and will surely aim to revenge that ugly loss suffered in Spain in their last encounter. What’s interesting is the fact that both teams won their home games in their last 6 meetings. I expect the same outcome here.
Bogdan Vasile Tirc