|Maccabi Electra looks to ride the momentum after last week’s win when it hosts Le Mans Sarthe Basket and former player David Bluthenthal on Thursday at Tel Aviv’s Nokia Arena. Maccabi topped Air Avellino 90-83 last week behind a masterful performance by Carlos Arroyo and strong support by Lior Eliyahu and Marcus Brown. Arroyo scored 20 and dished 8 assists, while Eliyahu scored 15 on perfect shooting and Brown added 15 in just 17 minutes. Meanwhile Le Mans lost at home by 4 points to Cibona – its second narrow loss in as many weeks. Despite the losses, there is plenty of optimism in the Le Mans camp. The squad is still coming together and has four excellent scoring weapons. Two of them – Bluthenthal and Dewarick Spencer – were among the most successful three-point shooters in the Euroleague last season, but are a combined 4 for 21 this season. When their shots start falling, it will create more options for playmaker Brian Chase and big man J.P. Batista as well. Chase will have a tough time matching moves with Arroyo if the Maccabi point guard can duplicate last week’s performance. That point guard battle could be the most important of the contest. The hosts are quite deep at the wings, where Brown, Tal Burstein, Tre Simmons, Jason Williams and Omri Casspi are among the options head coach Efy Birenboim has to choose from to combat Spencer, Bluthenthal and Antoine Diot. In the paint, Le Mans has some gritty and athletic players in Pape Badiane and Alain Koffi as well as J.P. Batista to tackle Eliyahu, D’Or Fischer and Esteban Batista. Le Mans head coach J.D. Jackson has all the pieces to challenge Maccabi in an uptempo game and can lean on Bluthenthal to prepare his teammates for the electric atmosphere in Tel Aviv. Furthermore, as a key player on the Maccabi team that reach last season’s Euroleague title game, Bluthenthal can help Le Mans plan to stop some of Maccabi’s important weapons, like Eliyahu, Burstein and Casspi. Nevertheless, Maccabi remains the favorite at home, especially in a week where its domestic game was postponed and the team had extra time to prepare for Le Mans. The key matchup should be at the point, where Chase will have to slow Arroyo down to hinder the Maccabi attack and give Le Mans a shot at what would be only the clubs second road win in two years.
- Swingman Tal Burstein enters his team’s Week 2 game needing only 4 more three-pointers to reach 100 for his Euroleague Basketball career. He is also just 7 assists shy of 250 for his career. He would be the 25th player to reach that mark.
- Maccabi swept Le Mans in two regular season games last season – the only two meetings ever between the clubs. Ironically, Maccabi’s leading scorer in those games is now with the opposition. Forward David Bluthenthal averaged 16 points for Maccabi.
- Guard Marcus Brown is a two-time French League champion. He won the 1998 crown with Pau-Orthez and in 2000 with Limoges. Not a single player on the current Le Mans roster was a professional when Brown played in France.
- Maccabi’s deep rotation has nine players averaging at least 10 minutes of action per game. That depth has also allowed head coach Efy Birenboim’s side to commit the second most fouls in the Euroleague so far this season, 23.5 per game.
- Forward David Bluthenthal spent three seasons and won the 2004 Euroleague title with Maccabi. He played for Maccabi last season, helping the club reach the Euroleague title game. Bluthenthal scored 385 points in 56 career Euroleague games with Maccabi, which ranks him 37th all-time on the club’s European scoring charts.
- The only double-figure rebounding effort of Alain Koffi’s career came at Nokia Arena. Koffi had 8 points, 11 rebounds and 2 blocked shots for Le Mans in a 74-71 loss last October.
- Big man J.P. Batista made his Euroleague debut against Maccabi Tel Aviv with Lietuvos Rytas last November. He came off the bench for 2 points and 4 rebounds in 10 minutes of an 18-point L. Rytas win.
- J.P. Batista has played faced Maccabi center Esteban Batista a number of times of the years in national teams competitions in the Americas. J.P. and Brazil defeated Esteban and Uruguay in the 2007 Pan-American Games final. Maccabi guard Carlos Arroyo led Puerto Rico past Brazil in the 2007 Fiba Americas bronze medal game later that summer.
Wednesday, November 05, 2008