These two teams have positive momentum going and are eager to keep their spots in the standings and even climb higher. Maccabi has won its last two games – by a combined 4 points! – and is tied for fourth in the standings. Valencia has won four of its last six games, but has lost two of its last three at home. The team is in seventh place, but ninth-place Fenerbahce Beko Istanbul has only one win less.
When they last met
Maccabi has won four of the past five games against Valencia, including a 76-63 decision in Tel Aviv in Round 4 in October. However, the current Maccabi squad has a much different look than that game; only three players who scored for Maccabi on that night are active with the team. Omri Casspi, Nate Wolters, Tarik Black, Yover Zoosman and Jon DiBartolomeo combined for 43 points, 17 rebounds and 13 assists in that games, but are all injured now.
Bojan Dubljevic has been a force in the paint for Valencia all season with big numbers; he leads Valencia in scoring (14.2 ppg.) and rebounds (7.2 rpg.). His counterpart, Othello Hunter, may be best-known for his defense, but he ranks second on Maccabi in scoring (10.2 ppg.) and first in rebounds (6.3 rpg.). Moreover, Hunter netted the game-winner on the road to beat Fenerbahce in their last game. The individual duel between these centers should be exciting.
Keys to victory: Valencia
Maccabi has one of the toughest defenses in the league, but Valencia has one of the tools needed to attack it. Valencia gets to the free throw line often; the team is third in the league with 360 free throws made – 19.3 per game. Maccabi commits the most fouls in the league (22.9). The more Valencia attacks, the more fouls it draws, the more free throws it makes, the better chances it has to win.
Keys to victory: Maccabi
The off-week should serve Maccabi well as its slightly injured players, such as Scottie Wilbekin, had a chance to rest. However, Maccabi will need to be strong inside since Valencia allows the fewest offensive rebounds (9.4) in the league. The flip side is that Valencia opponents have shot 55.9% on two-pointers. If Othello Hunter and co. take advantage of that, Maccabi will be in a good position.