Howard and Baldwin IV challenge each other in search of the ‘Playoff’

Howard and Baldwin IV challenge each other in search of the ‘Playoff’


This Tuesday, Baskonia will face its first attempt to qualify for the 2023-2024 Euroleague ‘Playoff’ in its visit (8:30 p.m.) to the Stark Arena in Belgrade to face the Israeli Maccabi Tel Aviv, in an all-or-nothing match marked by the duel between two of the best scorers of the Regular Phase.

The new ‘Play-In’ that the organization designed to increase the excitement until the end of the first part of the competition begins this Tuesday with its four teams involved in search of completing the eight that will seek passage to the ‘Final Four’ next May in Berlin. Maccabi, Baskonia, Anadolu Efes and Virtus Bologna will fight for those tickets between this Tuesday and Friday, the day in which the loser of the clash between Maccabees and Baskonistas will face the winner of the match between the Turkish team and the Italian team in their pavilion.

In this second match there seems to be more favoritism in favor of the Istanbul team, unlike the one that will be seen in the always impressive Stark Arena, on this occasion silenced by Maccabi’s obligation to play behind closed doors in their exile in the capital Serbia where Baskonia hopes to find its best level to try to avoid its second ‘bullet’. The winner will face Greek Panathinaikos.

The team coached by Dusko Ivanovic arrives very encouraged because although it has not been very reliable in the Regular Phase away from the Fernando Buesa Arena with a balance of 8-9, it has been able to win in its last two outings against Real Madrid and the Virtus, something that reinforces it in order to counteract the strength of the Israeli team at home despite not having the support of its always noisy and ‘hot’ fans.

The six-time European champion only lost to four visitors, none of them yet in 2024 where they have won their seven games, while they also beat their next rival 89-81, in a match where curiously none of the players were major protagonists. who are expected to be this time like point guards Markus Howard and Wade Baldwin IV.

The American player from Baskonia is in one of those ‘sweet’ moments that he usually goes through in the season and that make him seem almost unstoppable for defenses and he will arrive in Belgrade after averaging more than 33 points in his last four games. This Sunday he was in charge of executing Río Breogán in Vitoria with a triple almost at the buzzer (76-74) and his ‘doll’ will be key against a Maccabi that also has many points.

Howard finished the Regular Phase as the top scorer with an average of over 19 points per game (19.4) and will meet another of the ‘gunners’ of continental basketball like Wade Baldwin IV, a player with a past in Baskonia and who has been the third best in points with almost 18 per game (17.7). The Maccabean game director, who could not fly with the rest of the team to Belgrade due to a bureaucratic problem, but who will not miss the event, is surely not so explosive, but he is usually very regular in the scoring aspect and in his last 16 meetings has exceeded double digits.

Howard and Waldwin IV monopolized the spotlight a few weeks ago when they met at the Buesa Arena with 26 and 25 points respectively for each one, so the defensive slate of both Dusko Ivanovic and Oded Kattash will have to draw good systems to curb its impacts.

In that last confrontation, the Montenegrin coach also managed to control another of his rival’s strengths, namely rebounding. Baskonia managed to balance it (39-39), although Maccabi was much superior on offense, where it is the best in the competition, with 16 catches, the same as it had in the first round duel where it did overwhelm on the boards (50 to 35).

There, Tadas Sedekerskis and Chima Moneke will have to deal with the physical exuberance of Josh Nebo, the best offensive and total rebounder of the Regular Season, and Bonzie Colson, while we will not have to lose sight of the crossover between Codi Miller-McIntyre and Lorenzo Brown , the first and third best assistant.



MACCABI TEL AVIV: Brown, Baldwin IV, Cohen, Colson and Nebo –possible initial quintet– Cleveland, Rivero, Webb III, DiBartolomeo, Sorkin, Thomasson, Menco and Blatt.

BASCONY: Howard, Miller-McIntyre, Marinkovic, Sedekerskis and Kotsar –possible starting quintet–; Chiozza, Ten, Rogkavopoulos, Costello, Moneke, Raieste and Theodore.

–REFEREES: Rocha, Boltauzer and Lottermoser.

–PAVIL: Stark Arena.

–TIME: 7:00 p.m./Movistar Deportes-