Maccabi Playtika Tel Aviv opens a double EuroLeague week knowing that a Tuesday win over CSKA Moscow in Menora Mivtachim Arena (21:05, Live on Sport5 - Channel 55) can light a fire in their late playoff push. After three consecutive EuroLeague losses, the Yellow & Blue hold a 10:14 record with ten games remaining as Giannis Sfairopoulos's squad understands that every game going is a battle.
The still reigning EuroLeague champions come to Tel Aviv ranked second in the standings with 17 wins and 8 losses. EuroLeague's top scorer, Mike James, leads Dimitris Itoudis's group with 20.5 points per game as the Greek coach has many different options to work with. Tornike Shengelia, Iffe Lundberg, Daniel Hackett, Darrun Hilliard, Will Clyburn, Johannes Voigtmann, Micahel Eric, Nikita Kurbanov, and Joel Bolomboy round up a well balanced Russian squad.
"CSKA has always been a primary candidate for the Final Four, and this year they have the least amount of losses with Barcelona, which shows their quality and experience scoring the most points per game", Said head coach Giannis Sfairopoulos about Tuesday's opponent. "We'll need to play well defensively, control the game's rhythm, and not let them play their style of basketball. Additionally, we'll need to execute well offensively. Once again, we are delighted to have 300 supporting fans in the stands, and we are anxious to see them again fighting with us for this win".
The playoff hopes as we advance: "As much as we get closer to the end of the season, it will become tougher. We will do our best because we are Maccabi, we have difficult games, especially here at our home court, and winning on the road isn't easy. This EuroLeague season is the most competitive one in the past years, but we will fight, we won't give up, and continue one game at a time".
"It's been a challenging season because of Covid-19, and everything is much tougher not just around basketball but in your day-to-day life", Explained Maccabi's big man Ante Zizic. "CSKA has been doing a great job this season, playing really good on both ends of the court, and it will be a tough game, but I don't know how different it will be from the last matchup. The 300 fans, even though it is not that many, it means a lot to us. I'm looking forward to seeing Maccabi fans in EuroLeague games.
Omri Casspi, who returned to the court last week, spoke about the Russian opponent and the playoff hunt situation: "Moscow has players who can create damage, and that is what makes them one of the best teams in the EuroLeague. We believe we can clinch even though we see the teams ahead of us in the standings and understand it won't be easy. But we still have a chance, we are Maccabi Tel Aviv, and we want to respect ourselves and the club we represent. Miracles occurred here in the past, so we want to build a good momentum and see what happens".