With the new Euroleague season nearing, BallinEurope is once more break down each of the teams individually on 16 consecutive days in the run up to tip off. As with last season, we’re going in reverse order from the opening round of games. We continue our rapid catch-up process, because we are so behind schedule, with a look at the year ahead for Maccabi Tel Aviv
This one required some Googling just to be sure but last season was the wrong kind of historic for Maccabi Tel Aviv. The club’s failure to win the Israeli championship meant that this club, European basketball royalty, had endured its longest stretch in history without a national championship. That this run began right after a treble campaign that included their famous Euroleague triumph in Milano only compounds the problems. Maccabi, a club who nobody would ever write off and who everyone considered a tough road test, was no longer the monster waiting to pounce.
Failure isn’t well tolerated in Tel Aviv but the reaction to coaches not getting the job done was a carousel of calamity as the club showed it either couldn’t find the right guy or wouldn’t give any guy enough time to rebuild the wreck of a roster they inherited. Such disorder just doesn’t help anybody.
Finally, coming into this season, the club appears to have recognised the need to enforce stability. Neven Spahija has arrived with a zero intereference mindset and one, that for now at least, appears to be getting respected. Spahija’s shown he can deliver, now he just needs the time and patience from those above him to actually do so.
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Coach: Neven Spahija
Arena: Menora Mivtachim Arena, 10,383
Last season in Euroleague: 10-20, 14th
Last season in Israeli League: 19-14, lost semi final
Who’s new? Jonah Bolden (FMP), Jake Cohen (Maccabi Ashdod), Norris Cole (OKC Thunder), John DiBartolomeo (Maccabi Haifa), Pierre Jackson (Texas Legends), DeAndre Kane (Real Betis), Karam Mashour (Bnei Herzliya), Art Parakhouski (Unics), Michael Roll (Besiktas), Deshaun Thomas (Efes), Alex Tyus (Galatasaray)
Who’s gone? Colton Iverson (TBD), Sonny Weems (Zheijang), Devin Smith (retired), Yogev Ohayon (Hapoel Jerusalem), Guy Pnini (Hapoel Holon), Joe Alexander (Hapoel Holon), DJ Seeley (Gran Canaria), Gal Mekel (Gran Canaria), Victor Rudd (Gaziantep), Sylven Landesberg (Estudiantes), Andrew Goudelock (Olimpia Milano), Diamon Simpson (Buyukcekmece), Quincy Miller (Brose Bamberg)
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Talk about a clear-out. For those trying to keep count, all of three players from last year’s roster remain including exactly zero players that were or will be expected to log serious minutes for Maccabi. This is a whole new side and one that clearly is as much about the mental statement Maccabi wants to make as anything else.
The changes are a reflection of what the club sees as a need to start fresh and that’s a good attitude. There are some really interesting signings, not least Bolden and DiBartolomeo, show promise but that doesn’t mean we can start saying the old Maccabi is back. A brand new roster requires time to gel and that means we should expect growing pains along the way.
On the whole, this season should be a step forward for Maccabi but the road back isn’t a quick one.
Fearless prediction: 10th. A marked improvement from last season and I fully expect Maccabi to be in and around the playoff spots for most of the campaign before eventually falling short.
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