By Antonis Stroggylakis/ email@example.com
The first minutes of the Round 6 EuroLeague game of Maccabi Tel Aviv against Olympiacos Piraeus included a piece of valuable experience for Yellows’ swingman Yovel Zoosman.
Zoosman began the match tasked with guarding the most dangerous offensive player of Olympiacos. It’s a role he has been accustomed to from the previous season and particularly since the arrival of coach Giannis Sfairopoulos in November 2018.
This time, Zoosman was called to play defense against three-time Final Four MVP Vassilis Spanoulis. Less than three minutes into the game, Spanoulis drew the second foul from the 21-year-old Maccabi wing after swiftly changing direction in his trademark first step. Sfairopoulos was forced to quickly substitute his young player.
“I knew he [Spanoulis] was going to do that. But, he still did it. He has a really quick first step that I didn’t really think it’s that fast and quick,” Zoosman told Eurohoops.
“That’s crazy… in his age,” Zoosman reacted when being told that Spanoulis is 37 years old.
The words came out of Zoosman’s mouth carrying a clear air of modesty. Despite being humbled by the speed of a player 16 years older than him, Zoosman was thankful for receiving some extra homework material in what is a constant learning process towards becoming the player he dreams to be.
“I need to watch the game and learn a lot from what he did,” Zoosman added. “The more you play the more you practice, the better you are going to be. That’s it basically. Game situations are important. The more you do that, the more you learn from the mistakes. After every game I play, I watch it. And I try to learn as much as I can. And I try to not make the same mistake twice.”
Zoosman jumped to the 2018-2019 EuroLeague as the FIBA U20 European Championship MVP and a gold medalist with the Israeli national team. It took him a couple of rounds into the season before seeing his duties increasing considerably and evolving into a player who often assumed the part of a “glue guy” for Maccabi.
It was halfway through the season when Zoosman began spending more and more minutes on the floor during which undertook key missions on defense, where he was entrusted with containing the “enemy no. 1” of the opposing team. On offense, he served a function as a weak-side shooter or cutter but also a dime-dropper. He actually sometimes found himself running the pick n’ roll and facilitating with his passes.