Parker feels for Maccabi

MIKE KOREEN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:14 AM ET

ROCHESTER -- Anthony Parker has no trouble explaining why the players of Maccabi Tel Aviv probably are not thrilled about playing against the Raptors in front of a partisan crowd at the Air Canada Centre tonight.

"The thing is this is the pre-season, this is the time when they're supposed to be getting better as a team, playing European rules and getting used to playing against European players and that's not what they're doing," the Raptors guard/forward, who played for the Israeli team the past five seasons, said yesterday.

"They're playing against a bunch of these NBA teams and not in Israel. They're travelling all over the place and spending a large amount of time away. It's hard to prepare when you're doing all this travelling and (going through) time changes. It's tough, mentally and physically."

Indeed, some of Maccabi's players and coaches have grumbled about their four-game global tour against NBA teams, which wraps up tonight with a second game in as many years against the Raptors. Maccabi's Nikola Vujcic referred to this year's tour as "stupid."

Last season, Maccabi made a quick two-game, three-day trip to North America, which included a memorable 105-103 win over the Raptors on a buzzer-beating jumper by Parker.

But it has been a different story this time around as Maccabi lost games in Europe against the San Antonio Spurs and Phoenix Suns last week before getting hammered 93-67 against the Cavaliers Tuesday night in Cleveland. Maccabi, a Euroleague finalist the past three years, plays its first Euroleague game next week.

"The more success the team has, the more opportunities and maybe obligations they have around Europe and around the world. But maybe they need to scale it back just for the good of the team the next couple of years," Parker said.

Parker got a good laugh earlier this week when he read a quote from ex-Maccabi teammate Derrick Sharp, who was asked about facing Cavs superstar LeBron James.

"For me, LeBron is just another great player," Sharp told Israeli reporters. "I played Anthony Parker numerous times during practices and I don't see any differences."

Parker, however, isn't letting his head get too big.

"I think if we were at a park and (Sharp) had to pick me or LeBron (as a teammate), he'd pick LeBron," Parker said with a smile.

"I have not been compared to LeBron (before) and he's not comparing me to LeBron. I think what he means is they've played against great players and they would approach LeBron as any great player.

"They're not going to be in awe of him, but they respect everything he has done."


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