Both teams arrive to this team with a 1-5 record, so a lot of intensity is expected. Gran Canaria is in a four-game losing streak and relies on its best scorers, Chris Evans (13 ppg.), D.J. Strawberry (11.2 ppg.) and Clevin Hannah (10.8 ppg.) to bounce back as soon as this week. Maccabi lost its last three games and looks for its second road win. Scottie Wilbekin (13.8 ppg.) has been its leading scorer until now, followed by Tarik Black (12.3 ppg.), who has been sidelined in the last two games, and Michael Roll (11.2 ppg.). Both teams face each other for the first time, which adds more spice to this interesting showdown.
Wilbekin has been bothered by a thumb injury in the last couple of weeks but already bounce back in Israeli League action this weekend, scoring 17 points in 32 minutes. Wilbekin must use his one-on-one skills and unlimited range against Hannah, one of the best newcomers in the competition this season. Hannah is doing even better at home, averaging 13.3 points in 3 games.
Did you know?
Wilbekin averaged 19.7 points and 4.8 assists in 18 7DAYS EuroCup games last season, earning MVP honors. Wilbekin, however, was limited to 6 points on 2-of-12 shooting, 2 assists and a PIR of 2 in Darussafaka's visit to Gran Canaria. It was also his team's last loss in that EuroCup season - Darussafaka won the next 6 games and lifted the trophy. Wilbekin averaged 25.8 points in those 6 games.
Keys to victory: Gran Canaria
First and foremost, Gran Canaria is allowing opponents to score 61.8% of their two-point shots, which dramatically helps the team to hace the worst defensive numbers in the competition (95.3 ppg. allowed). Protecting its own rim by being more physical in the paint is a must. Gran Canaria must raise its three-point shooting percentage (31.3%, 14th overall) to be more competitive, as it has the fire power to do so.
Keys to victory: Maccabi
With Wilbekin healthy and ready, Maccabi must run its offense through him, as he can change any game with his leadership and determination. Maccabi ties with Fenerbahce for last place in offensive rebounds (8 orpg.), so powering the glass for second-chance opportunities is a must. If Black remains sidelined, Johnny O'Bryant and Alex Tyus must make the most of their extended playing time.