Yellow-and-blue leaning on rock-solid ’Zo

In first season with Maccabi Tel Aviv, guard provides veteran leadership • Adams also making mark

Lorenzo Brown's play and leadership has been perhaps the key factor in Maccabi Tel Aviv’s recent resurgence after a subpar start to the season. (photo credit: YEHUDA HALICKMAN)
Lorenzo Brown's play and leadership has been perhaps the key factor in Maccabi Tel Aviv’s recent resurgence after a subpar start to the season.
(photo credit: YEHUDA HALICKMAN)

There are very few players in the Euroleague who can dominate a game the way Lorenzo Brown did in Maccabi Tel Aviv’s 80-72 victory over Anadolu EFES last week.

The 32-year-old point guard graces the floor like a ballroom dancer who commands the attention of all those intently watching with bated breath. Or just like the conductor of a symphony orchestra who can bring his “team” to perfect harmony while an entire audience looks on in amazement.

That is what Brown did by scoring 11 of his 23 points in the fourth quarter of a game that looked like it was slipping away into the depths of disappointment but instead carried his charges on his back and turned around an eight-point deficit (65-57) at the end of the third quarter into an eight-point victory as the final buzzer sounded.

Very few of the 10,432 fans in attendance could believe their eyes as the yellow-and-blue ripped off a 23-7 run over the final 10 minutes of the contest to notch the win and move to two games over .500 as 9-7 after 16 rounds of games ahead of Friday’s duel with Real Madrid.

Maccabi Tel Aviv had been playing for about a month now without an injured Wade Baldwin, which meant that Brown was tasked with many more responsibilities. Whether it was organizing the offense and dishing out assists, or scoring when it mattered most or just being the quiet leader that he is which has garnered much respect from his teammates, Brown was, has been and most probably will be the main man in Tel Aviv. In fact, captain John DiBartolomeo described the Spanish-American as the “engine of the offense.”

Maccabi Tel Aviv point guard Lorenzo Brown (credit: SANDRO HALANK/CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)/VIA WIKIMEDIA COMMONS)Maccabi Tel Aviv point guard Lorenzo Brown (credit: SANDRO HALANK/CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)/VIA WIKIMEDIA COMMONS)

“What Lorenzo has had to experience over the past few weeks is really unusual and without Wade there is more pressure involved. Lorenzo has been able to manage the pressure.”

Oded Katash, Maccabi Tel Aviv head coach

While he may or may not enjoy the spotlight, Brown’s importance to the team is clear as day, though he is just aching to welcome his backcourt mate back into the fray which according to reports could happen vs Real Madrid.

“I told Wade I can’t wait for him to get back so he can run off some screens like five or six times at the top of the key because I am exhausted at this point. We are happy to have Wade back and he is a big part of this team. I am glad he is ready to be back on the court.”

Oded Katash, Maccabi’s coach, is also aware of how hard Brown has had to work for the team without having an additional guard at the ready with Baldwin out.

“What Lorenzo has had to experience over the past few weeks is really unusual and without Wade, there is more pressure involved. Lorenzo has been able to manage the pressure.”

“But it’s good to remember Wade. In my opinion, this win is because of all of the players who battled but also to see those who did not play like Wade, who is injured, or like Guy Pnini, who was not dressed, bring positive energy and to cheer on the team. It’s like having an additional two coaches. At this level, the team is healthy and fun and they have the right body language and energy.”

There is no question that the energy created by the supporters at Yad Eliyahu is something unique and something special.

“It was amazing as usual,” Brown said of the atmosphere and fan effect. “We always feed off of their energy. It means a lot to us that they cheer for us and we appreciate them giving us support.”

Josh Nebo also spoke about the energy being a big factor in Maccabi’s success, while also slipping in some thoughts on Brown’s showing and importance to the squad.

“It felt good as it was loud here and was hard to hear. The fans are what gives us the energy to make those comebacks in the fourth they give us that extra energy. “

Point guard Jalen Adams' involvement

Jalen Adams also knows what important attributes Brown brings to the table for Maccabi: “Lorenzo means everything to this team,” he said. “When he gets clicking, we have so many weapons on the team. We do our job and knock down the shots.”

Adams himself has also played a central role for the team since joining the yellow-and-blue on a short-term contract and while Katash is still searching for a big man to give Maccabi a little more depth in the front court, he has made a decision concerning Adams’s future with the club which is one that will bring a smile to the squad.

“Jalen will continue with us, if it’s up to us,” the bench boss said while Adams himself made it very clear in the locker-room his intentions, “I want to stay part of this team. It’s hard to find a team and group of guys like this.”

As for DiBartolomeo, he feels the same way as many around the club feel as well.

“We want Jalen to stay. He is a dynamic scorer and the more time he spends with us here the better he gets.”

What is clear right now for Maccabi Tel Aviv is that they are gelling together and becoming one unit that is understanding more and more how to play with one another.

As a point guard, it’s only natural that Brown would be tasked with plenty of responsibility as he has been really playing above and beyond what had been expected of him which especially came to light in the comeback victory last week over EFES.

But perhaps that was also due to the fact that there were very special and notable Brown guests in the stands, including his mother.

“It’s super amazing, I haven’t had my mom at a game since like college, maybe the NBA, but there I didn’t play as much. It felt great to have my family here. I wanted to come out here and play my best and it worked out.”

Looking ahead to 2023, Brown shared his thoughts about the new year from a basketball perspective.

“I just wish that we all stick together, stay healthy and maintain being a family.”

To that Maccabi Tel Aviv fans can all say. “Amen.”