Maccabi FOX Tel Aviv will look to remain undefeated at home when it hosts Valencia Basket, which is seeking its first win of the season. Maccabi notched its first victory last week by defeating Crvena Zvezda mts Belgarde 84-69 after overtime. The starting backcourt of Scottie Wilbekin and Nate Wolters combined for 31 points for Maccabi. Valencia came up short against EuroLeague runner-up Anadolu Efes Istanbul 78-83 despite a 22-point effort by Bojan Dubljevic. These teams last met two seasons ago and traded regular-season home wins.
Bojan Dubljeic has been Valencia's most productive player this season and that is without his handy three-point shot falling. The center is leading Valencia with 12.7 points per game and has made 15 of 22 two-point shots (68.2%), but is only 1 for 8 on threes (12.5%). He won's have an easy time in the paint this week against Tarik Black, who is a force on both sides of the floor. Black is averaging 11.0 points on 80% from the floor (12 for 15). Black has also gone to the free-throw line more (13 to 5) and in this physical duel, drawing fouls could play an important part.
Maccabi center Othello Hunter and point guard Scottie Wilbekin are closing in on some personal EuroLeague milestones. Wilbekin is 14 points shy of reaching the 1,000-point club in the EuroLeague. Hunter is already a member of that club and is nearing a spot on the all-time top 10 in offensive rebounds. He enters this game tied with retired Panathinaikos great Mike Batiste for 11th place all-time with 347 offensive boards - and 13 behind Crvena Zvezda forward James Gist for 10th place. Both Hunter and Wilbekin need 4 more steals to reach 100 for their careers, too.
EuroCup greats in the house
Scottie Wilbekin tore up the 7DAYS EuroCup with Darussafaka Istanbul two seasons ago when he was the competition's MVP, Finals MVP and leading scorer. Valencia boasts the EuroCup's all-time leading scorer in four-time All-EuroCup selection Bojan Dubljevic. Valencia point guards Quino Colom and Sam Van Rossom and swingman Fernando San Emetrio are also former All-EuroCup selections.
Keys to victory: Maccabi
the Maccabi offense has been fairly consistent so far this season with between 83 and 85 points in each game. However, when it played its best defense last week in holding Crvena Zvezda to 69 points is when the Israeli champs finally got their first win. Valencia has scored the second-fewest points in the league so far this season (70.7 ppg.), so it’s a good opportunity for Maccabi to focus on defense again. Another weakness for Maccabi to address is offensive rebounds; its 8.0 per game are fewest in the league and a few extra easy baskets of possessions could make the difference.
Keys to victory: Valencia
There is no shortage of excellent three-point marksmen on this Valencia roster, but so far the team has struggled from downtown; its 26.7% three-point accuracy is last in the EuroLeague. Alberto Abalde (14.3%), Bojan Dubljevic (12.5%) and Vanja Marinkovic (20%) are all struggling so far, but if Valencia turns that around and the threes start to fall, this game will look much different.