After two consecutive road EuroLeague games, Maccabi Playtika Tel Aviv returns to Menora Mivtachim Arena, facing Olimpia Milano as part of the 11th fixture of the 2020/21 season (Thursday, 21:00, live on Sport5 - Channel 55). The Yellow & Blue won their last two home games against Zalgiris Kaunas and Hapoel Haifa but suffered two road losses in Spain versus Real Madrid and Valencia.
Sandy Cohen was suspended for the past two days after the win over Haifa, didn't participate in the team practice, and won't be registered for the game on Thursday. John DiBartolomeo, who made his season debut on Sunday after missing an extended period due to nagging injuries, will suit up and be available for coach Giannis Sfairopoulos.
The Italians come into Tel Aviv with a 4:3 record, missing multiple games because of COVID-19. Ettore Messina's star-studded roster includes ex Maccabi Michael Roll, Sergio Rodriguez, Luigi Datome, Kyle Hines, Malcolm Delaney, Vladimir Micov, Kevin Punter, Zach LeDay, and Shavon Shields.
"Milano comes in averaging the second-most points in the EuroLeague, and they're a really talented group", Said head coach Giannis Sfairopoulos about the Italian opponent. "Lately, they've had their full roster after having COVID issues, and last game, they scored 92 points, which shows they're offensive quality. Defensively, they try disorganizing their opponent's offensive flow".
"It's in our hands to fight hard, bring all of our energy tomorrow, and have great motivation to do so after playing much better against Valencia as we deserved to win that game but lost due to details. Now it's our time to win playing good basketball on both ends of the court", Concluded Sfairopoulos.
"We got to win this game right now, like every game at this point is a must-win starting against Milano", Told the Yellow & Blue center Othello Hunter at the pregame press conference. "We just got to stay focused and play one game at a time. I think we come into games thinking we can win, knowing we can win, but it's just a matter of executing everything on the court".
John DiBartolomeo, who'll make his European seasonal debut on Thursday, said towards the matchup: "We come out to win every game, Milano is a very challenging team, they have a lot of weapons on offense, adding a lot of pieces. As far as our game plan, our focus is on the defensive end. That's where we want to pride ourselves at, that's where we want our identity to be, and playing against the second-best offense in the EuroLeague is a good test for us, and we need to be ready for it".