After a great battle in Memphis, Maccabi Haifa is ready for the Lakers

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Maccabi Haifa will take on the Los Angeles Lakers tonight at 6:30pm (04:30am Israel time) at the Staples Center in the second game of Haifa’s NBA tour. The Greens arrive back to Israel on Wednesday and will play their first Israeli league game against Ironi Nahariya on Friday at 2 p.m.

In Thursday’s 97-84 tightly contested loss in Memphis, the Greens were paced by LA native Dijon Thompson, who joined the team for the two-team NBA tour. Thompson netted 17 points and pulled down 7 rebounds in 32 minutes against the Grizzlies. Haifa forward Rene Rougeau was all over the court, recording 15 points, 7 rebounds and 7 steals. Green giant Alex Chubrevich impressed against center Marc Gasol, adding 14 points and 5 rebounds, while captain Chanan Colman matched Chubrevich with 14 points, while shooting 3-of-7 from downtown.

For Memphis, Marc Gasol shined with 23 points on 8-of-12 from the field, 6 rebounds, 3 assists and 4 blocks.

“I think that we will have to be more careful with the ball, because we will get more pressure, and we will have to avoid turnovers,” said Maccabi Haifa head coach Rami Hadar. “On the defensive end, we have our style, and we will try to enforce it on the game, in order to use their turnovers into transitions fast break.”

“I had a good game against Memphis, but I will come to do the same thing against the Lakers, to give my best,” Alex Cubrevich said. “Regardless, there is always extra motivation to play against those players, because you want to prove yourself at the highest levels.”

On the Lakers side, veteran Kobe Bryant returns to the court after nine months of being out because of a right shoulder injury. The Black Mamba averaged 22.3 points, 5.7 rebound and 5.6 assists in 35 games last season. So far the Lakers are 0-3 in the preseason games, with Bryant contributing 11.3 points per game. The leading scorer for the Lakers in the preseason is Lou Williams, who is averaging 17.6 points per game.

“We will approach it like all preseason game, it’s our fourth,” Lakers head coach Byron Scott said. “I am still trying to look at players and give the young guys some time and experience.”

Another player who returns from injury is Julius Randle, who was set for his rookie season last year, but suffered a season-ending injury in his first game against the Houston Rockets. Thus far in the preseason, he is averaging 13.3 points and 5.6 rebounds per game.  Metta World Peace, who returned to the NBA after playing for the Lakers between 2009-2013, is back in a Lakers uniform this season. The forward has played two games in the preseason and is averaging 6.5 points and 3.5 rebounds.

“Maccabi will try to get a win and it’s great for them. It’s pretty cool for them to come and play against NBA teams, the best athletes in the world” Metta World Peace said. “But the world is getting smaller and there are a lot of good athletes, but the NBA it’s the best Basketball league in the world.”