EuroView: Maric and Maccabi Tel Aviv on world tour
Most European leagues are now well under way, with 2014 Euroleague Champions kick-starting the season by taking part in the Intercontinental Cup followed by the NBA Global Games. The season then really steps up a further gear when the Eurocup and Euroleague commencing later this week.
There are many Australians flying the flag in Europe and as always, they were in the thick of the action.
Aleks Maric of Maccabi Tel-Avi - Courtesy Euroleague
Reigning Euroleague champions Maccabi Tel-Aviv made the trip to Rio de Janeiro to take on FIBA Americas League champions Flamengo in a two-game series. The visitors would come away with a narrow 69-66 victory with Australian Aleks Maric making his debut with 2 points in just 11 minutes. Winning a second straight game on the road proved too difficult for Maccabi, as Flamengo earned the Intercontinental Cup thanks to a 90-77 win and an 8 point aggregate. Maric this time played 17 minutes and contributed 4 points, 5 rebounds, 1 steal and 1 block.
Maccabi then travelled to the USA to take on the Cleveland Cavaliers featuring their former coach David Blatt and the Brooklyn Nets. In a game featuring an Australian on each team, Maccabi proved no match for the Cavs as they fell 80-107. Maric was quiet, only providing 3 rebounds and 1 assist. Compatriot Matthew Dellavedova posted 4 points, 2 assists and 1 steal in 16 minutes, boding well for his season ahead in a revamped Cavs line-up.
Against Brooklyn, Maccabi stepped up their game but still were no match for their NBA opponent despite outscoring the Nets 25-23 in the last quarter. In a 94-111 loss, Maric played an increased 28 minutes and provided 2 points, 4 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal and 1 block. The two-games against quality NBA teams provided a great platform from which Maccabi will be look to launch a successful start to defending their Euroleague crown. In returning to Israel, they did just that with an 81-69 win over Ironi Nes-Ziona to start their domestic season. Maric came off the bench to deliver 3 points, 4 rebounds, 1 assist and 3 steals in a solid all-round performance.
ISTANBUL, TURKEY - SEPTEMBER 24: Nate Jawai, #11 poses during the Galatasaray Liv Hospital Istanbul 2014/2015 Turkish Airlines Euroleague Basketball Media Day at Abdi Ipekci Sports Hall on September 24, 2014 in Istanbul, Turkey. (Photo by Aykut Akici/EB via Getty Images)
In Turkey, Euroleague powerhouse Galatasaray opened their season with a workmanlike 94-85 win over Usak. Fresh off his return to the Australian national team at the FIBA World Cup, Nathan Jawai contributed 4 points, 2 rebounds and 1 blocked shot in 11 minutes off the bench. He is sure to feature more prominently as he continues to rediscover his fitness and form.
Also in the Turkish Basketball League, another Boomer in the shape of Ryan Broekhoff was in action for Besiktas as they fell 71-74 to Darussafaka. As a starter, Broekhoff landed 7 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 steal and 1 block in 34 minutes, demonstrating he will be a key player for his side this coming season in the domestic league, but also in Eurocup.
David Andersen, another Australian World Cup representative has been busy in the French Pro A League with ASVEL Lyon Villeurbanne. They opened the season with a 58-68 road loss to Andersen's former team Strasbourg. Andersen was restricted to 7 points and 3 rebounds in 24 minutes of action against his former club. He was more influential in their next game against Cholet, delivering 14 points, 4 rebounds and 1 assist in a 67-56 win.
Unfortunately for Andersen and ASVEL, they were unable to string two wins together as they then fell 71-86 to Dijon. The Australian veteran center was still able to post 11 points, 5 rebounds and 4 assists as is team was reduced to a 1-2 record to start the season. They will be looking to rediscover their form in their Eurocup game against Artland Dragons this week.
Brad Newley - Courtesy Herbalife Gran Canaria
Arguably the strongest national league in Europe, two rounds of the Spanish ACB have now been completed. It was not an ideal start for Eurocup team Gran Canaria who challenged Real Madrid on the road. Brad Newley went 4/4 from the field in delivering 8 points with 5 rebounds and 1 steal in 19 minutes but was unable to prevent a 57-70 loss. Newley stepped it up further with 12 points, 5 rebounds, 1 steal and 1 block as he helped lead Gran Canaria to a 72-57 triumph over Obradoiro and get their season moving in the right direction ahead of their opening Eurocup clash this week against Cantu.
Former Melbourne Tiger (now United) Chris Goulding's Spanish adventure began with CAI Zaragoza dropping a 74-79 result to Joventut at home. In 19 minutes as a starter, Goulding was able to provide 4 points, 2 rebounds and 2 assists in a quieter outing that he would like. CAI Zaragoza and Goulding were able to quickly make up for the opening round disappointment thanks to a thrilling 67-66 win over Tenerife. Goulding was more efficient in this outing, scoring 6 points with 2 rebounds and 1 steal, with performances like this always looking better when the team wins. Former Perth Wildcat and current team-mate of Goulding, Kevin Lisch went scoreless in the 1 point win.
Ex-Sydney King AJ Ogilvy also made his season debut with La Bruixa d'Or in Spain, compiling a sold 12 points, 5 rebounds and 2 blocks. However it was not enough as they were overcome by Obradoiro 64-88. Things do not get any easier as they next face Spanish super power Barcelona and they are now staring at a 0-2 start to the competition.
Daniel Johnson - Courtesy Stelmet Zielona Gora
In Poland, Daniel Johnson made a slow start to the season with just 5 points and 4 rebounds in 18 minutes as Stelmet Zielona Gora accounted for Wikana-Start 86-73. Johnson moved into the starting five in their round 2 clash with MKS Dabrowa Gornicza and did not disappoint. He piled on 17 points and 9 rebounds before fouling out in 21 minutes. It is a promising sign for the big Aussie and his team ahead of their Eurocup encounter with Lokomotiv Kuban this week.
And to round out this week's update, special mention goes to Daniel Dillon who is once again playing for CMS Oradea in Romania. Dillon was simply outstanding in Oradea's opening 108-81 win over Cluj University. He delivered a spectacular 19 point and 12 assist double-double alongside 4 rebounds and 1 steal in 29 minutes of action. It was a performance that saw him named Eurobasket.com's Romanian Player of the Week. Oradea was unable to replicate the same outcome against Ploiesti a week later, going down 73-90 with Dillon chiming in with 8 points, 7 rebounds and 6 assists.