"A year ago, no one knew Yogev Ohayon even existed. furthermore, if he would still be playing for Hapoel Jerusalem, nobody would hear of him," said Maccabi Tel-Aviv owner David Federman during a local Israeli radio interview yesterday.
That said, let's get some facts straight.
In 2005, DraftExpress.com's Director of International Scouting Luis Fernandez, claimed the Israeli 19-year-old left-handed point guard was "not the prototypical player that a league like the NBA looks for." However, he explained that "for the European competition, he (Ohayon) seems to have a bright future, and his talent could carry him even further with the proper work and development."
Fernandez also resembled Ohayon's play to that of the Phoenix Suns' Steve Nash and Argentine-Spanish playmaker Pepe Sanchez.
After recording 8 points, 2.7 rebounds and 4 assists per game during his full rookie year with Hapoel Galil Elyon in the 2005-06 season, over the years, Ohayon established himself into Galil's, Jerusalem's and now Maccabi's and the Israeli national team's most appreciated ball handler.
Recent rumors flooded the Israeli press the past few days about an explosion between Ohayon's people and Maccabi's management. According to reports, the player's representatives claim to have a buyout option that allows Ohayon to terminate his agreement with the Israeli powerhouse, while Tel Aviv claims Ohayon is strictly under contract until the end of 2012-13.
While the confusing versions of the agreement continue to be revealed, Ohayon, who's currently receiving interest from Panathinaikos, Malaga, Caja Laboral, Kazan and Kuban, might have to settle this issue in court (i.e. Jeremy Pargo and Maccabi saga).
He who deserves colossal credit for Ohayon's emergence this past season is Maccabi's head coach David Blatt.
It's no secret that when signing Jordan Farmar, Theodoros Papaloukas and Tal Burstein to the team's roster earlier last season Ohayon was expected to come off the bench for spotty Euroleague minutes but play a bigger role during the domestic contest.
After parting ways with Farmar in mid-season, Maccabi's coaching staff decided to acquire Demond Mallet for the opening of Euroleague Top 16 rounds. A move that again illustrated to Ohayon that he wasn't trusted.
While Mallet played a combined 24 minutes throughout five Elite 8 Euroleague series games against Panathinaikos, it was Ohayon who helped rally the yellow-and-blue to one of Europe's heroic series and dazzling performances by an Israeli player in any European competition.
The Euroleague rookie Ohayon came up big for Maccabi versus Panathinaikos and nearly sent his ball club to final four games in Turkey. Against the Greeks Yogev dished out more assists (2.8) and scored almost double (9.8) then his regular Euroleague season averages of 2.6 dimes and 5.6 points.
While Ohayon and his agent carry on their act of media silence, Maccabi continues to expose the player's contract information, disclosing dates and clauses.
As for Federman's callout against Ohayon, in June, 2007, on DraftExpress.com's weekly player evaluation, Ohayon was chosen for a spotlight breakdown over players such as Danilo Gallinari, Rudy Fernandez and Omri Casspi, stating "it's fair to expect Ohayon to become a very nice player in Europe, even a premier point guard if he maximizes his potential."
So, five years later, Ohayon is living up to the expectations and even though he's currently in the United States on vacation and wasn't able to be reached for comment, it is safe to say - he was well known across waters before joining Maccabi Tel Aviv.
Julien Mills (ex Elizur Ashkelon) signs at Metros de Santiago - Jun 19, 2013
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Metros de Santiago (LNB) landed 28-year old American swingman Julien Mills (193-85, college: Ball State). He played recently at Elizur Ashkelon in Israeli Winner League. In 24 games he averaged 14.6ppg, 6.7rpg, 2.4apg and 1.4spg this season. The last season Mills played at Szolnoki Olajbanyasz (A Division) in Hungarian league. In 34 games he had 11.7ppg, 6.1rpg, 2.4apg and 1.9spg. He helped them to win the league title and the cup [read more]
Metros de Santiago (LNB) landed 28-year old American swingman Julien Mills (193-85, college: Ball State). He played recently at Elizur Ashkelon in Israeli Winner League. In 24 games he averaged 14.6ppg, 6.7rpg, 2.4apg and 1.4spg this season. The last season Mills played at Szolnoki Olajbanyasz (A Division) in Hungarian league. In 34 games he had 11.7ppg, 6.1rpg, 2.4apg and 1.9spg. He helped them to win the league title and the cup. It was a very successful season in his career as he was selected to Eurobasket.com Hungarian League All-Imports Team, 2nd Team and All-Defensive Team. Mills also played 17 games in EuroChallenge where he had 12.1ppg, 6.8rpg, 3.1apg and 1.4spg. He contributed to his team making it to the semifinals. The previous (10-11) season Mills played at Eiffel Towers Den Bosch (Eredivisie) in Dutch league. In 29 games he was fourth best scorer with 14.9ppg and recorded 6.8rpg, 2.7apg and 1.5spg that season. It was a very successful year in his career as he was selected to Eurobasket.com All-Dutch Eredivisie Honorable Mention. Mills ended the previous (09-10) season at Fort Wayne Mad Ants in D-League. But in two games he did not score anything. But the most of that year he spent at Cairns Taipans (NBL) in Australian league. In 28 games he had 12.2ppg, 4.8rpg and 2.6apg. In 2008-09 season Mills was tested by Kotwica (TBL) in Polish league. In 23 games he had very impressive stats: 15.6ppg, 5.9rpg, 2.7apg and 1.8spg. Among other achievements he received Eurobasket.com All-Hungarian League Import Player of the Year award back in 2008. Mills has played also professionally in Hungary (Dombovar). He attended Ball State until 2007 and it is his sixth season in pro basketball. Mills' game is described as:
Skip Mills is an explosive scorer with great quickness and leaping ability. He is a phenomenal athlete who could play either the point or the shooting guard. Skip is a great playmaker who can score at a very high level. Skips strength and athleticism are to his advantage and he can abuse smaller guards. Also, because of his strength, Skip can get away with playing the 3 spot at times. His quickness and ball handling skills give him the ability to take almost any defender to the rim. Skip's high shooting percentages are phenomenal. Skip can hit three pointers from downtown Indianapolis and his shot selection is excellent. He possesses great range on his jump shot and is a great pro three-point shooter, but with his range could be a great NBA three-point shooter. At Ball State Skip was their only true scorer and many times he was double or even triple teamed, but he still averaged 18.9 ppg his junior season. Skip's senior year at Ball State he was named Pre-season Player of the Year, but a coaching change saw a new philosophy and drastic changes that did not work for anyone and ultimately hurt the whole team and led to the dismissal of the new coach who only lasted at Ball State for 9 months. Skip scored 38 points in his final collegiate game. When he is leading the team up the court on a fast break, he has the quick explosion needed to take the ball all the way, or he can stop on a dime and nail the mid-range J. Skip is also a decent free throw shooter and knows how to get to the free throw line. An excellent run and jump style player. Along with his offensive skills, he is also a good defender. Skip plays good on the ball defense and has shown that he can force his opponent into committing turnovers. Skip is a complete player who knows how to win and creates major match-up problems for the opposition. His Strength and athleticism make him a very effective rebounder from the perimeter.
May 2005, Maccabi Electra Tel-Aviv just won their 12th consecutive domestic championship by sweeping Hapoel Tel-Aviv 0-3 in the final series and in an average of 33 points difference per game. It was also Maccabis 35th championship in the last 36 years an amazing thing in any standard. At the same time, the league management chairman, Avner Kopel, knew that he must do something in order to save the Israeli basketball before it dies [read more]
May 2005, Maccabi Electra Tel-Aviv just won their 12th consecutive domestic championship by sweeping Hapoel Tel-Aviv 0-3 in the final series and in an average of 33 points difference per game. It was also Maccabis 35th championship in the last 36 years an amazing thing in any standard. At the same time, the league management chairman, Avner Kopel, knew that he must do something in order to save the Israeli basketball before it dies. Kopel came up with the idea of cancelling the series system and change it to a final four system. The league will be played in three rounds and the first four teams will qualify for the final four. If its good for the Euroleague, itll be good enough for Israel. All the other clubs were enthused by the idea of having a real chance to win the title except one Shimon Mizrahi, Maccabis chairman. it doesnt make sense that a team can finish first with 0 losses in regular season, and lose in the semi final because its just one game, said Mizrahi.
Since the majority voted to try out the new system, Mizrahi had to agree as well but with three conditions: 1)Maccabi Electra Tel-Aviv will have an automatic spot in the Euroleague regardless their position at the domestic league. 2)The final four will be played in Nokia arena, Maccabis home court which is also the only suitable arena for these kind of events. 3)The new system will be played for 2-3 seasons and then the series system will return.
Season 2005/06 was the first one to be played in the new system. Maccabi as expected, finished 1st with total of 26-4 and they played Ironi Nahariya who finished 4th with total of 17-13. It was Maccabis easiest final four, as they skipped them into the final, where they won Hapoel Migdal Jerusalem 66-96. But the signs of this problematic system appeared one year later, when Maccabi met Jerusalem once again in the final and this time Jerusalem was so close to lift the trophy for the first time. But Jamie Arnolds buzzer beater saw the yellow celebrate again with a 80-78 victory.
A year later something change in the Israeli basketball view when Hapoel Holon, the promoted team from the 2nd division, finished the regular season in the 1st place, the first time since 1999 that Maccabi doesnt located first. In regular season Holon won Maccabi twice and lost one and the final match was between these two teams. Holon was the better team along the season and a justice was made when Malick Dixon hit a buzzer beater to win the game for Holon 72-70. For the first time since 1993, Maccabi lost the championship. At that point still no one argued too much, because eventually Holon deserved the title. Since then, Maccabi lost the title twice in 5 years, recently last week. Why lost? Championship is not private property of Maccabi. Lost because both Altshuler Saham Galil Gilboa & Maccabi Bazan Haifa werent the best team during the season. While Altshuler Saham Galil Gilboa finished the season in 2nd place with no less then 10 losses more than Maccabi but still won the final game in Nokia, Maccabi Maccabi Bazan Haifa met Maccabi Electra Tel-Aviv 5 times this season and lost all the games until the final game, which by the way, was decided in the middle of the season to be in Maccabi Bazan Haifas stadium and for the first time not in Nokia. (At that time, no one knew that Maccabi Bazan Haifa will qualify for the final, but once again, all the other clubs voted to move the final game from Nokia to Romema, Maccabi Bazan Haifas new stadium).
The Israeli basketball never looked more ridiculous then it looked right now. Maccabi Electra Tel-Aviv has many fans across the country and also many people who would love to see other teams winning the title, in any way. They want competition and not the same champion for 23 years in a raw like Maccabi was since 1970-1993, something which doesnt exist in any other part of the world. But then again, the way to decide the championship is getting ridiculous every year. Both sides have good arguments: Maccabi in one hand, built themselves as one of Europe elite clubs over the past 50 years but they started from zero. Every year they have sane and balanced budget, unlike the Russian, Spanish and Turkish clubs and still manage to bring achievements & titles. On the other hand, in Israel Maccabi has budget more then two times then the 2nd richest club in Israel. Its almost impossible to win Maccabi in a series.
This year was the first year when the series return for the semi final phase and only the final was one game. But whats the point of winning your rivals during full season and finish first if the only game which will decide the champion, Maccabi cannot host? It is true that until today almost every final (cup or championship) was in Nokia since it was the biggest stadium in Israel by far and still is, but also because Maccabi always finished the season first and the minimum reward for their efforts should be home court advantage even if its just one game. Just imagine CSKA Moscow finish the regular season with 16-2 while BC Khimky Moscow Region finished second with 13-5 and after CSKA won every match between the two teams, the championship will be decided in one match at Khimkys arena. Sounds imaginary, right? Well, this is the exact way that Maccabi Maccabi Bazan Haifa won their first championship. By winning Maccabi Electra Tel-Aviv in a single game, after 5 losses and in Maccabi Bazan Haifas new arena.
There are some points that the opposite to Maccabi is always brings up: 1. If the final four is good for Maccabi in the Euroleague, they shouldnt complain about it in the domestic league. Wrong. These are two different competition. While in the Euroleague Maccabi doesnt play vs. all the teams and the system is similar to a cup tournament, the Israeli league is being played in a league system, when every team plays each other in home & away rounds. The teams are working very hard during the season to finish as high as they can. So again, why to bother so much if the title will be decided in one game and not even at the arena of the team who finished in a higher place?
2. It is not fair that Maccabi will get an automatic license to play the Euroleague regardless their position in the Israeli league. The Euroleague is a private competition and the Euroleague management has the right to decide which teams should take place in the competition regardless their position in the domestic leagues. But Maccabi is also the only Israeli club that has the budget and arena to play in the Euroleague while most teams are withdraw from the European competitions like the UELB and the Eurochallenge, so how can they exactly play in the Euroleague? Hapoel Migdal Jerusalem got a wild card in 2004 but they passed on it since their arena didnt stand in the Euroleague standard and they didnt want to play in Nokia. Altshuler Saham Galil Gilboa/Gilboa was eliminated 3 years ago in the qualifying round.
3. Maccabis budget is way bigger than the rest, its impossible to compete with it. With all the respect, its not Maccabis problem that they are running the club maybe in the best way in Europe in the last 40-50 years, invest money, working hard, trying to improve and get better every year, while the rest of the Israeli clubs are always looking for shortcuts. Did Hapoel Holon maintain their team after their title? No, they almost didnt start the season year after and the same thing also happened to Altshuler Saham Galil Gilboa. So where is Maccabis fault in all this? Maccabi Bazan Haifa has a very good team but if they wont keep their squad and stability, this title wont be worth too much.
No doubt that the league management must act in order to fix this problem. Maccabis management already thought to leave the league if this current situation will continue and personally I think that its the best solution for both sides. The Adriatic league will contribute to Maccabi even though the fans will miss the passion of derby matches for example, while the Israeli league will get an equal league but theyll take the chance that without Maccabi the league can be hurt financially. In my opinion, the best offer is to try this option for one or two seasons to see how it goes. The next season will be even more weird, when the final will be played in a series of best of two. Home and away matches, the club who will win on aggragate will be the champion. Just when we thought that the league management cannot get any lower, they came up with this idea Maccabi Maccabi Bazan Haifa is not the one to blame here. Maccabi Maccabi Bazan Haifa did what they should, won Maccabi Electra Tel-Aviv in the title match after 5 losses, so the newspaper can scream sensation!!! in the next morning, but even Maccabi Bazan Haifas players know that they werent the best team in Israel. Maccabi Maccabi Bazan Haifa was the best team on June 13, 2013 between 21:00 and 23:00.
Titanes Del Distrito Nacional lands James Thomas, ex Maccabi Haifa - Jun 18, 2013
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Titanes Del Distrito Nacional (LNB) tabbed 33-year old American power forward James Thomas (205-116kg-80, college: Texas). He played recently at Maccabi Haifa in Israeli Winner League. In 34 games he averaged 9.8ppg and 9.3rpg this season. He helped them to win the league title and they also made it to the cup final. The last season Thomas played at Givova Scafati (Lega2) in Italian league. In 37 games he had 13.2ppg, 11.8rpg and 1.3spg. He contributed to his team making it to the semifinals [read more]
Titanes Del Distrito Nacional (LNB) tabbed 33-year old American power forward James Thomas (205-116kg-80, college: Texas). He played recently at Maccabi Haifa in Israeli Winner League. In 34 games he averaged 9.8ppg and 9.3rpg this season. He helped them to win the league title and they also made it to the cup final. The last season Thomas played at Givova Scafati (Lega2) in Italian league. In 37 games he had 13.2ppg, 11.8rpg and 1.3spg. He contributed to his team making it to the semifinals. He can count that season as a very successful as was awarded Eurobasket.com All-Italian Lega2 Center of the Year, selected to 1st Team and selected to All-Imports Team. The previous (10-11) season Thomas played at Erdemirspor Eregli (TBL) in Turkish league. In 30 games he had 9.3ppg and 10.2rpg. In 2009-10 season he was tested by BancaTercas (SerieA, starting five) in Italian league. In 5 games he had 8.2ppg, 7.4rpg and 1.0spg. Thomas also played 2 games in Eurocup where he had 6.0ppg, 6.0rpg and 1.0apg. In 2008-09 season he was tested by Biancoblu (Lega2) in Italy. In 2004 Thomas was drafted by Adirondack Wildcats (USBL) in fourth round (37th overall). The former University of Texas standoutis in his ninth season in pro basketball. He has played also professionally in NBA (Atlanta Hawks, Chicago Bulls and Philadelphia 76ers), Italy (Biancoblu Basket Bologna) and CBA (Albany Patroons). Let's have closer look into Thomas' outlook:
A warrior in the paint who plays higher than his 6-8. Very tought and aggressive, he managed to play inside in the NBA, even because he's a very hard worker and a team player. Has a limited shooting range, but can score, isn't a great shotblocker, but he will die for a rebound.
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