The Euroleague US Tour 2014 will feature Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv, the reigning Turkish Airlines Euroleague champion, crossing the ocean for the fifth time in the past decade to face two NBA opponents next October. Maccabi will play two nights apart, against the Cleveland Cavaliers and its own former head coach, David Blatt, and against the Brooklyn Nets. The tour marks the 11th season in the past 12 that NBA teams will have hosted Euroleague clubs for preseason games. The friendlies form one part of the Euroleague World Tour, of which Maccabi will also be a protagonist for two games in Brazil during the 2014 FIBA Euroleague Intercontinental Cup in late September.
Maccabi's first game on the Euroleague US Tour falls on Sunday, October 5 at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio, and was made even more special when Blatt was hired as head coach of the Cavaliers last week, a month after his six years over two stints on Maccabi's bench culminated in the team's Turkish Airlines Euroleague championship victory in Milan. The two teams also met in an exhibition in Cleveland in 2006. Cleveland has been one of the most-active sites on the Euroleague US Tour with games against Maccabi, Olympiacos Piraeus of Greece in 2009, CSKA Moscow of Russia in 2010 and Montepaschi Siena of Italy in 2012.
On October 7, the Brooklyn Nets will host Maccabi at Barclays Center for a first meeting in three decades since Maccabi won a game between them in Tel Aviv in 1984. Maccabi has played a total of 18 games against NBA teams dating back to 1978. Maccabi was the first European opponent to play, host, defeat or win on the road against NBA teams. Its first win over an NBA opponent came in 1978 against the Washington Bullets in Tel Aviv and the first by a European team on North American soil came against the Toronto Raptors in 2005.
The current Cleveland squad featured several players familiar to Euroleague fans, including Anderson Varejao, a 2003 Euroleague champion with FC Barcelona; Scotty Hopson, who started last season with Anadolu Efes Istanbul; Alonzo Gee, who previously played for Asseco Prokom Gdynia of Poland; and Sergey Karasev, who played the Eurocup for BC Triumph Lyubertsy and is the son of Russian legend Vasily Karasev. In the past, several one-time Maccabi stars later suited up for Cleveland, including Anthony Parker, Omri Casspi and Jeremy Pargo.
As for Brooklyn, its 2013-14 roster included Alan Anderson, who played for Maccabi in the 2009-10 season, was the team’s leading scorer and won the Euroleague’s February MVP trophy; 2012 Euroleague MVP and Defensive Player of the Year Andrei Kirilenko; and Mirza Teletovic, who was the Euroleague’s regular season top scorer in 2011-12 with Caja Laboral Vitoria. CSKA Moscow represented Euroleague Basketball in the 2013 US Tour, winning one overtime game in Minnesota and lost in overtime at San Antonio.