Maccabi Tel Aviv will be a tough team

Maccabi Tel Aviv will be a tough team

My today`s attention turns on one of the most prolific European basketball team in the 21st century. They won the 2004, 2005 and 2014 Euroleague editions, also being runner-up in three different occasions in 2006, 2008 and 2011. The last 3 editions were very hard for them, as they stopped in the regular season every time. Last season they finished in the 10th place with a 14-16 record.

The transfer market for them started very badly. They lost Michael Roll, which left for Olimpia Milano, Alex Tyus to Khimki Moscow and the last player they thought him lost was the junior Yovel Zoosman which played in NBA Summer League for Cleveland Cavaliers. But, he returned in Tel-Aviv and the 2018 FIBA Europe Under-18 Championship MVP will continue his progress with The Yellows.

Alongside Zoosman, Maccabi has another future star in their roster: Deni Avdija. He was recently named the MVP of Under-20 European Championships, where Israel won the tournament after beating Spain in the Finals 92-84. He finished the tournament with 18.4 points, 8.3 rebounds, 5.3 assists and 2.4 blocks. This kid will be an amazing player in the future with the right work ethic.

But Maccabi also added some several foreign players in order to fight for a playoff spot. The first player bought was Nate Wolters (28 years-old, 1.93m, PG-SG) from Zalgiris Kaunas. He averaged 11.2 points and 3.8 assists per game in Euroleague last season. He played for several teams in Europe like Crvena Zvezda, Chalon or Besiktas, but also Milwaukee Bucks, New Orleans Pelicans or Utah Jazz, playing in 84 games in NBA. The next player announced was veteran Othello Hunter (33 years-old, 2.03m, C). He played last season for CSKA Moscow and finished with 7.7 points and 4.3 rebounds per game in 36 Euroleague games. He`s another player with some NBA backgrounds, playing two years for Atlanta, but only 23 games. He played before for Olympiacos and Real Madrid.

Another player that came to Maccabi after an NBA Summer League experience is Elijah Bryant (24 years-old, 1.96m, G/F). He played for Milwaukee Bucks this summer and averaged 14.2 points, 4.0 rebounds and 3.2 assists. Last season he played for Maccabi`s rivals Hapoel Eilat, where he averaged 17.6 points and 5.7 rebounds. And, the last player brought in Tel-Aviv is Quincy Acy (28 years-old, 2.01m, F). He played for six different NBA teams including Toronto Raptors, Sacramento Kings and New York Knicks, and most recently Phoenix Suns. He has huge NBA experience, playing in 337 NBA games averaging 4.9 points and 3.5 rebounds. He will add huge quality for the Israeli-team and will put some big numbers in the next season.

Last but not least, Maccabi is testing now Tyler Ennis who started last season with Fenerbahce but was injured for the last months. The Israeli powerhouse made as well an offer to Mike James, the scoring ace of the Euroleague who could fit perfectly with the “run and gun” philosophy of Maccabi.

Looking at the squad and at the current additions, Maccabi Tel Aviv will be a tough team to beat next season, especially at home in front of their big fans. I expect from them to reach a playoff spot, the roster, fans and history are on their side. I will keep an eye on them, they look very solid and they need to recoup the past glory.

Bogdan Vasile Tirc