The Big Man in Haifa’s Big Plans for Title

Pat Calathes knows that he and his teammates will need to be at their best when his team Maccabi Haifa faces Maccabi Tel Aviv on Thursday night for the Israeli League’s basketball title

Pat Calathes knows that he and his teammates will need to be at their best when his team Maccabi Haifa faces Maccabi Tel Aviv on Thursday night for the Israeli League’s basketball title. According to the 2.08m, Greek-American forward, “We’ll need to concentrate and can’t afford to take any plays off.”

When Calathes is on his game, Haifa is tough to beat, as evidenced in their recently concluded semifinal series against Eilat. In Haifa’s three victories, Calathes averaged 18 points and 11 rebounds − while scoring only eight and nine points in their two defeats.

The 27-year-old native Floridian has blossomed during his first season in Israel, averaging 16 points and 9 rebounds after four seasons with three different professional teams in the Greek league.

Known for his versatility, Calathes is well suited to coach Brad Greenberg’s team-oriented style of play. “Pat is very good at letting the game come to him,” according to his coach. “He understands spacing and is very good at playing off the ball. In addition, he’s a wonderful teammate,’ who is comfortable in his own skin, gets along with everyone and is wonderful to coach.”

Haifa is at its best when they run and get out on the break. “We’ll especially need Pat,” said Greenberg, “to grab defensive rebounds and bust out on the dribble.” For a big man, Calathes is especially adept in the open-court, up-tempo game, a result of his having begun high school as a 1.80m point guard before a growth spurt brought him to his present height by his senior year.

After high school Calathes went on to a distinguished college career at St. Joseph’s in Philadelphia. During his senior year he attracted the attention of NBA scouts, but although considered a candidate for the first or second round, he was never selected in the draft.

Calathes’ younger brother Nick starred at Florida University during the same period and was drafted in the second round in 2009 by the Minnesota Timberwolves, but decided to bypass the NBA and signed a three-year deal with Greek league powerhouse Panathinaikos.

Last year the two brothers teamed up with the perennial Euroleague representative. According to Pat, “It was an amazing experience last year. I had never played with my brother before, only against him.”

Calathes’ strong season has enhanced his reputation as an international player, and he is reported to be on Maccabi Tel Aviv’s radar screen for next season, so it’s altogether possible that he still has Euroleague days ahead of him.

AP