Chuck E’s Threes: Maccabi’s Three-headed Contingency Plan

Maccabi's new arsenal From left to right: P.J. Tucker, Chuck Eidson, David Bluthenthal.

By: Freaknick

It has been said (and occasionally sung) that three is the magic number.  So far this offseason, Maccabi Tel Aviv has been the star student in that school of thought.  With Omri Casspi likely heading to Sacramento, the Yellows seem poised to move on without his services.

Just recently they inked Lietuvos Rytas guard Chuck Eidson.  Eidson averaged 15.9 points, 5.7 rebounds, and 5.1 assists last year for a Rytas team that won the Eurocup, Lithuanian League, Baltic League, Lithuanian Cup and Baltic President’s Cup.  That’s five-out-of-five.  But where were we? Oh yes…three.  Eidson, who played collegiately at South Carolina, can play all three perimeter positions, while he excels at small forward (otherwise known as the three).

But the fun doesn’t stop there.  Maccabi signed not just one three, but—you guessed it—three threes.  David Bluthenthal is back for his third stint with the team after spending last season with LeMans Sarthe Basket in France.  Bluthenthal should fit back in nicely and he’ll be doing the bulk of his work from three, where his 43% career three-point percentage ranks 13th all-time in Euroleague competition.

The third of these Three Maccabiteers is P.J. Tucker, who has not been officially announced but has apparently signed a preliminary contract with Maccabi. A Former Texas Longhorn, Tucker led the Ukrainian Superleague in scoring with 19.4 points per game and tossed in 5.9 boards for BC Donetsk, who will sorely miss his strength and creativity from 20 feet and in.

Maccabi will still need to grab a point guard, and another big man wouldn’t hurt (though they did add Maciej Lampe to give D’Or Fischer some help).  But three star players isn’t a bad start. Even if they play the same position.

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Posted 2 months, 1 week ago at 3:45 am.

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It was the best of teams, it was the worst of teams…it was Group C

By: Freaknick

If each group were to pick their three best teams and play a round robin, the smart money would be on Group C. I know that basketball games aren’t won and lost on paper, but I’m petty sure that CSKA, Maccabi and Tau Ceramica could beat Group C’s bottom feeders with a piece of paper as their fifth player.  So while every game may not be hotly contested, Group C should provide excitement and storylines galore.  Let me explain…

If Jaaber decides to stay, he'll be expected to put up mighty big numbers.1.  Which team will take lashes as the whipping boy? In such a star-studded group, the three remaining teams—Virtus Roma, Union Olimpija, and Qualifier QR2B—are going to take their lumps, which by Week 10 may resemble small mountains.  A great way to blow off some steam and ensure your team some W’s is to pick off the weakling from the back of the pack.  The problem is we can’t yet pinpoint the runt of the litter.  With scoring machine Sani Becirovic asking for too much money and guard Ibrahim Jaaber rumored to be on his way out, Roma might struggle to score 70 per game.  Union Olimpija is  not without their offensive woes; only one Euroleague team had a worse shooting percentage in 2008-09.  And then there’s team QR2B.  How does one analyze a team not yet defined?  He doesn’t.  He instead moves on to the next storyline.  Like this…

Arroyo can still wow the crowd, but he also needs to be a leader.2.  Will Maccabi guard anybody? The other 23 Euroleague teams are praying that the answer is a big, fat “NO”.  And well they should be.  The storied franchise struggled a bit last year and the reason was frustratingly clear: defense.   I’ve seen better efforts in YMCA pick-up games.  And the worst part is, the numbers won’t show it.  After looking for some stat that I could point to and say “Aha!”, I realized that they were in the middle of the pack statistically in every significant category, if not a little higher.  So naturally, it leaads one to believe, how much better could they have been with a little bit more energy on the defensive end of the floor?  We should get our answer this season, with the team parting with ball magnet Lior Eliyahu and re-signing the stronger David Bluthenthal for a third stint with the club.  Also joining the club will be former Texas Longhorn P.J. Tucker and the aggressive forward Stephane Lasme.  Add these bulls to a frontcourt with D’Or Fischer and a backcourt led by the flashy yet effective Carlos Arroyo and Maccabi could again be formidable.

He won't be smiling after another 2-8 season.3.  Has the financial market finally caught up with Union Olimpija? It would be a damn shame if this were the case, but it may be true.  It’s no secret that the economy sucks, and Ljubljana was a small market to begin with.  After nearly 10 consecutive seasons of winning both the Slovenian Cup and the Slovenian League, their success came to a screeching halt in last season’s Euroleague in which they posted a 2-8 record and looked extremely overmatched.  While some bigger teams may fix that by signing a big name in free agency, Union Olimpija does not have that luxury, instead relying on homegrown talent.  Last year their patience paid off in the form of 24-year-old big man Mirza Begic who made strides and dropped 11 points and 6 boards per contest.  This year, the hopes rest on the narrow shoulders of another Mirza, Mirza Sarajlila.  The 18-year-old guard will be asked to carry a much heavier load than last year, and if Olimpija wants to improve upon last year’s poor showing, he’ll need to grow up.  And fast.

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Posted 2 months, 2 weeks ago at 3:51 am.

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The Wild, Wild, Group C

Group C Preview- CSKA Moscow, Tau Ceramica, Maccabi Electra, Virtus Roma, Union Olimpija, Qualifier

By: Slam

This is still the symbol for excellence

This is still the symbol for excellence

Best Team - CSKA Moscow: Even though they are cutting salary and losing players, CSKA  Moscow is still the top dog in this group.  They bring their core players back with Trajon Langdon, JR Holden, Matjaz Smodis, Ramunas Siskauskas, Erazem Lorbek, and Victor Kryhapa.  Those are seven starter quality players and while some of them may be getting older they are still very skilled.  Siskauskas can still be relied upon (as we saw in the Final Four) to carry the scoring load at any point during a game.  Moscow may have lost their coach and are cutting down salary but they still retain their core from seven straight Final Four appearances and that is enough for me to pick them as my best team.

Can this once proud franchise return to glory?

Surprise Team – Maccabi Electra: I know what you’re thinking here is that Slam is picking his guilty pleasure team but you are wrong.  Yes last year I thought Maccabi had a chance to win it all and I was wrong but this year is different.  This will be Carlos Arroyo’s second year in the Euroleague, giving him more experience and seasoning.  With the addition of David Bluthenthal and Maiej Lampe to go along with D’Or Fischer Maccabi has a very deep front court.  There are rumors that Continue Reading…

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Posted 2 months, 2 weeks ago at 3:00 am.

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PODCAST: Eliyahu or Velickovic? Tepic or Bluthenthal? The guys break down the insanity of free agency

Who’s the better re-signing: Bourousis or Siskauskas?  Will BC Khimki get more out of Cabezas or Lopez?  And did a coach steal the show this offseason? Slam and Freaknick break down the best deals, the worst deals, and the ones that really don’t even matter in their latest podcast.

Click “PLAY” to be enlightened, one hard-to-pronounce name at a time.

Check out ALL the podcasts.

The best, the worst, the busts.  We parse the transfer market until it makes some kinda sense.

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Posted 2 months, 2 weeks ago at 12:55 pm.

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