Round 17 of Turkish Airlines Euroleague will bring us another interesting match between Zalgiris Kaunas and Maccabi Tel Aviv. If Maccabi wants to reach the Final-4, for Zalgiris, to catch a play-offs spor will be more than acceptable, looking at their current situation. Maccabi is on 4th place, while Zalgiris share the last two positions with Zenit St. Petersburg.
Zalgiris morale is very good before this game, because now they are on a 3-0 run, including a win in Germany against Bayern Munchen in the last Euroleague round. The game started with an 8 points lead at the half-time and after that, they added more points difference until the last seconds, when the final score was 98-73. Not only their offense worked very well, but also on the other end of the floor things were perfect. They forced Bayern to do 20 turnovers, which game them 14 more field-attempts. Also, what was huge for them was the number of assists, recording 29 assists, which means they passed the ball very well and always looking for the open man. For Zalgiris, the main contributors were: Zach LeDay (19 points and 5 rebounds), Arturas Milaknis (19 points) and Thomas Walkup (13 points, 11 assists and 3 steals). Marius Grigonis is still out, while Jock Landale and Edgaras Ulanovas status is a game-time decision.
Everything is perfect on Maccabi’s side if we look at the results and standings in Euroleague and National League. But, if we look at their injured list, it seems that bad days are ahead of Maccabi. I will start with the absentees for this game because the last Euroleague game was lost especially ‘’thanks’’ to their missing players. For this game, Tarik Black, Omri Casspi, John Dibartolomeo and Nate Wolters are out, while Othello Hunter and Scottie Wilbekin are game-time decision because they are not 100% ready for this game. The last one suffered an ankle injury in the game against Anadolu which limit him at only 17 minutes in the game. In their last league game, against Hapoel Beer Sheva, they used only 7 players, six of them playing more than 27 minutes, while the 7th playing 11 minutes. However, they managed to win the game 80-63, with a big performance from Jake Cohen, who ended with 23 points, 7 rebounds and 6 assists. Quincy Acy (18 points and 8 rebounds) and Tyler Dorsey (10 points, 10 rebounds and 8 assists) also have big contributions.
Hunter and Wilbekin are not 100% ready for this game and if at least one won’t play in this game, then, Maccabi will have some problems in Lithuania. Zalgiris is hoping to win another one after that perfect game against Bayern and their fans will surely help them a lot.
Bogdan Vasile Tirc