Maccabi TA 298.88.
(photo credit: AP)
Maccabi Tel Aviv faces the San Antonio Spurs in Paris on Sunday afternoon in the first of four games against NBA opponents over the next 12 days.
The Tel Aviv club has overhauled its squad over the summer, adding five players and replacing its entire coaching staff. Despite only training together for a couple of weeks, the early signs seem good. The team defeated fellow Euroleague side Climamio Bologna 93-67 in a preseason match on Thursday and is hoping to continue its good form against the Spurs.
"It's always a challenge to play against NBA teams, but we showed last year that we can give them a fight and also win," center Nikola Vujcic said after the game against Bologna.
Yotam Halperin missed Maccabi's 105-103 win over the Toronto Raptors last year and is looking forward to helping the team to its fifth alltime win against an NBA team. "I wasn't with Maccabi on the team that beat the Raptors last year, so now is a chance for me to join the long list of Maccabi players who beat an NBA team, and I'm really excited about the opportunity," he said.
"I had a chance to play for an NBA team this season, but I chose to stay with the team I grew up in and that I love so much. We will come focused and hope to get better and better until the first tip off in the Euroleague, because this is basically the reason for these preseason games - to make the team play better in the real games."
New Maccabi coach Neven Spahija, who will face an NBA team for the first time in his career on Sunday, is, however, familiar with the Spurs. "It is the first time I will coach against a NBA team, and the game is against the San Antonio Spurs, which is a team I have a very good relationship with," Spahija told the Euroleague Web site.
"I was an assistant coach on their summer league team, so playing against them is special. They know me very well, and I know them."
On Tuesday, Maccabi Tel Aviv will play CSKA Moscow in a repeat of last season's Euroleague championship game in Cologne, Germany, as part of the NBA Europe Live Tournament. Also Tuesday, the Phoenix Suns face the Philadelphia 76ers. The winners of each game will square off in the tournament final on Wednesday, while the losers of each game will play for third place, also Wednesday.
Six days later, Maccabi will face the Cleveland Cavaliers in the US and on October 19, it will play the Toronto Raptors in Canada for a second straight year.
CSKA Moscow 94, LA Clippers 75
Trajan Langdon scored 17 points and Tomas Van Den Spiegel added 16 to help host CSKA Moscow to a victory over Los Angeles Clippers in a preseason game.
Center Chris Kaman had 15 points and 11 rebounds and Corey Maggette scored 13 points for the Clippers, one of four NBA teams taking part in a European preseason tour and the first to play in Russia since the Atlanta Hawks in 1988.
"I'd love to come back and play these guys when we're definitely in shape - to show them what we can do," Maggette said.
Clippers coach Mike Dunleavy said the game was a good test for his team ahead of the new season. "It tells us how far away we are," he said.
Former CSKA junior player Yaroslav Korolev played briefly for the Clippers at the end of the game but did not score.
The Clippers have been in Moscow since October 1 for a training camp. They beat BC Khimki 98-91 on Friday night.
"Beating a team from the NBA is not a thing that happens often," said Theodoros Papaloukas, who had 10 points and nine assists for CSKA.
Los Angeles forward Elton Brown said he "definitely [had] flashbacks of Papaloukas," who had 12 assists when Greece beat the United States in the semifinals of the FIBA World Championship. "He's a great player," Brown said.
Euroleague champion CSKA dominated from the start, keeping the Clippers scoreless for more than two minutes and leading by as much as 21-14.
The visitors scored six unanswered points to trim the deficit, leveled at 22-22 early in the second quarter and then led 24-23 on Corey Maggette's score. But CSKA regained the advantage with the next basket and never fell behind again, steadily widening their lead and making it 52-39 when Anton Ponkrashov scored just before halftime.
"We knew what they could do, and unfortunately we weren't able to stop it," Clippers coach Mike Dunleavy said.
Suns 100, Roma 93
Shawn Marion scored 19 points and Steve Nash had nine assists as Phoenix beat Lottomatica Roma in a preseason game in Rome on Friday. The Suns trained in the northern Italian town of Treviso for four days before coming to Rome for their preseason opener. The Suns open the NBA season against the LA Lakers on October 31. Roma begins the Italian league season on Wednesday.
AP contributed to this report. On TV: Maccabi Tel Aviv vs San Antonio Spurs (live at 4 p.m. on Sport5+).