Maccabi Playtika Tel Aviv's journey for a playoff berth got slightly tougher with the loss on Tuesday, but Giannis Sfairopoulos's squad still believes their talent will bring them to the top 8 as they host Valencia (Thursday, 21:00, Live on Sport5 - Channel 55) for a do or die contest.
Two days after facing CSKA Moscow, the best offensive group in the EuroLeague, the schedule summoned Valencia, who's right behind the Russian side scoring 82.6 points per game. The Oranges hold a 14:13 record, sitting 1.5 games out of the final playoff. Klemen Preplic leads the team with 12.2 points per game as the Yellow & Blue will have another challenging task stopping EuroLeague's player of the month, Nikola Kalinic.
"After yesterday's loss, the most important part is pushing the players mentally to fight tomorrow", Said head coach Giannis Sfairopoulos about the preparations towards Thursday's matchup. "We have today and tomorrow to get ready, as we face up against a very good team with many different scoring options. Tactically, compared to our last game, we need to be more consistent and effective through most parts of the game, not having too many gaps, while mentally, we need to fight hard. These two aspects are the most important things we need to work on towards Thursday".
The Greek coach commented about how he picks himself mentally after another tight loss: "I fight for everything in life, so I'm ready to fight all the time. This is my character, and this is how I reached where I'm at professionally. Although we were behind by a large margin, we fought all the way back, giving maximum effort. We need to learn from our mistakes, and we have a big challenge to overcome this obstacle".
"Every game in this part of the season is almost a do or die type of game", Added Sandy Cohen about the situation going forward. "We can't let any contest slip away, so hopefully, we will be on top of our game, be consistent through four quarters and pull out the win. It can mentally drain losing that many close games in one season, but I feel more motivated after Tuesday's loss. I think we will come out motivated and ready to play".
Chris Jones spoke towards Valencia: "We aren't thinking about the last matchup against Valencia, just focusing on ourselves and clarifying the small details being more aggressive on defense, leading to a better offensive rhythm".