While other players have players have grabbed the headlines, Maccabi Tel Aviv forward Michael Roll has also played a crucial role in the yellow-and-blue’s 2-0 start in the Euroleague, averaging a team-high 32 minutes per game entering tonight’s clash with Olympiacos..
(photo credit: ADI AVISHAI)
After opening a Euroleague campaign with two straight wins for the first time since 2012, Maccabi Tel Aviv faces two games over three days in which it can make a real statement regarding its intentions this season.
After claiming the pre-season Winner Cup earlier this month, Maccabi has gotten the season off to a perfect start, improving to 2-0 in the Euroleague with last Thursday’s 74-68 win over Baskonia Vitoria and moving to 3-0 in the BSL with a 74-72 triumph at Hapoel Gilboa/Galil on Saturday.
Maccabi will face its toughest test of the season to date when it hosts Olympiacos at Yad Eliyahu Arena on Tuesday before visiting one of the competition’s strongest home teams, Red Star Belgrade, on Thursday.
Olympiacos is one of four teams to have opened its campaign at 2-0, while Red Star beat Spanish powerhouse Barcelona in its first Euroleague game of the season at the Aleksandar Nikolic Hall last Friday.
Maccabi struggled at times during the contest with Gilboa, but managed to eke out the win without Norris Cole and Jonah Bolden, who were being rested, and with no player spending more than 28 minutes on the court.
“We are trying to share the minutes,” explained Maccabi coach Neven Spahija. “We know it is a long season and we are playing in two completely different competitions with two completely different rules.
“We are trying to adjust. As a team that is playing for the first time together we are doing quite well. Let’s see what happens in the future, but we want to be smart by sharing the minutes.”
After leading Maccabi to the win in Bamberg in its opener, Pierre Jackson took a backseat against Baskonia. The 26-year-old earned MVP of the Round honors by putting up a performance index rating of 41 (27 points, 9 assists and 7 rebounds), the highest by a Maccabi player since 2008, in Germany, but was held to just five points in 18 minutes against Vitoria. Cole led the way with 24 points and five assists, and if the two can play well in the same game, Maccabi will have a backcourt duo that will be a handful for any team in Europe.
Olympiacos will be without its biggest star, with guard Vassilis Spanoulis still recovering from an injury that also kept him out of the team’s first two Euroleague games.
“We are facing a long week with a busy schedule, but we will be ready,” said Jackson.
“Olympiacos is an excellent team with many players who have NBA experience. We will need to execute what coach tells us if we want to win.”
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