Maccabi Tel Aviv opens pre-season

Maccabi wins the closed-to-the-public pre-season scrimmage 117-79.

Maccabi Tel Aviv unveiled its new-look 2005/06 squad Thursday night in its first pre-season game against Ramat Hasharon at Hadar Yosef in Tel Aviv. Maccabi won the closed-to-the-public scrimmage 117-79. Unlike last season when the Euroleague champs saw only one player (David Bluthenthal) leave and needed to work in just two others (Yaniv Green and Nestoras Kommatos), this season Pini Gershon lost five members of the rotation and has at least five new ones to work with. Gone are former captain Gur Shelef, starting guard Sarunas Jasikevicius, Yotam Halperin, Deon Thomas and Kommatos. In their place arrived Will Solomon, Kirk Penney, Jamie Arnold and Sharon Sasson. Gershon, who was already bickering with the referees at mid-season pace, used all three of his available newcomers Sasson has yet to practice with the team after returning from representing Israel at Eurobasket in the staring lineup. Penney seemed to fit right in, showing off his outside shooting stoke whenever his teammates found him open. Penney finished with a game-high 33 points on 12-for-16 shooting, including six threes. For Solomon and Arnold, the transition wasn't as smooth, although both players had their moments. Solomon, a former Hapoel Jerusalem star, is as quick as ever, with his shooting touch intact. Arnold's post game also should become a welcome addition to the Maccabi attack. Solomon, new captain Derrick Sharp and Maceo Baston added 18 apiece, while Arnold was good for nine points and nine rebounds. Aside from Sasson, national team players Tal Burstein and Yaniv Green, as well as Croatia's Nikola Vujcic, were not with Maccabi. The game was a typical pre-season encounter, devoid of defense and with plenty of experimental lineups. Maccabi prospect Omri Caspi received lots of minutes and showed that he could be ready to contribute in the BSL already this season. Ramat Hasharon showed it has a potential star in forward Terrence Shannon, who displayed athletic ability inside and a fine shooting touch outside. Center John Oden could also be a find for Mickey Berkowitz's side. Oden led Ramat Hasharon with 31 points and nine rebounds; Shannon and Mike King scored 14 each.