Long-time foes Maccabi and Panathinaikos have much in common as they hunker down for an important duel. Both teams went through midseason coaching changes, both have key players sidelined by injury (DeAndre Kane for Maccabi and Keith Langford for Panathinaikos), both have important players set to debut (Jeremy Pargo for Maccabi and Adreian Payne for Panathinaikos) and both have 8-11 records and are one win outside the playoff zone. It should make for a great game.
The point guard battle in this game will feature an All-EuroLeague First Team selection against the reigning 7DAYS EuroCup MVP. Nick Calathes of Panathinaikos is the former and he again leads the league in assists this season with 8.0 per game. The latter is Scottie Wilbekin of Maccabi, who grew up watching Calathes play at the University of Florida and then followed in his footsteps to play for the Gators. Wilbekin is Maccabi's top scorer (12.7 ppg.) and netted 24 against the Greens when they met on opening night.
Earlier this season
These teams met in Round 1 when Panathinaikos held off visiting Maccabi 89-84 in the Greek capital. The leads were traded back and forth in the first three quarters before the hosts used a strong finish to the third and start of the fourth quarter to create some breathing room and pave the way to victory. Matt Lojeski was the top scorer for Panathinaikos with 20 points and Nick Calathes dished 14 assists. Scottie Wilbekin scored 24 for Maccabi and Michael Roll had 15.
Keys to victory: Maccabi
The last five times Maccabi held its opponent to less than 80 points, it won. The Israeli champs will seek to do so again against Panathinaikos, which has been held below 80 in each of its last four EuroLeague games.
Keys to victory: Panathinaikos
The Greens have lost seven straight road games and rank last in the competition in scoring on the road (69.8 ppg). To win in Tel Aviv, Panathinaikos must allow its big men to draw their Maccabi counterparts outside and it must also slow down the hosts on offense. /p>