After six consecutive road games and 18 straight days away from home, Maccabi Playtika Tel Aviv returns to Menora Mivtachim Arena as they'll host Panathinaikos as part of the 16th gameday of the 2020/21 EuroLeague season (Tuesday, 21:15, Live on Sport5 - Channel 55).
The Israeli champions won three of their last four European games, coming into the matchup with a 6:9 record. On the other side, the Greek squad arrives in Tel Aviv with five wins and nine losses, winning two of six road games this season.
Over the years, Maccabi and Panathinaikos matched up 25 times as the Greens hold a 13:12 edge, but in the last two contests between the teams, the Yellow & Blue beat Pao on both occasions. In Tel Aviv, Maccabi carries a 7:4 lead.
"After two road games, we return to our home court against Panathinaikos, who are a really tough team with a great defensive mentality", Said head coach Giannis Sfairopoulos before the matchup against the Greek squad. Offensively, they have a couple of different attacking options, and as a team, we need to be very concentrated from the start, have the right mindset to execute our game plan, and fight for every possession until the final whistle".
"In the last four games, we won three of them as two were away against very good Spanish teams (Baskonia and Barcelona). Now that all of the players are starting to get more involved, the returning injured players need two more weeks to be in their best game shape", Added Sfairopoulos about the roster. "I believe the players are starting to get comfortable in their roles as our chemistry is growing. I want to emphasize that all of the 16 players on our roster are important and can produce well for the team, and that's the reason they are here".
Dragan Bender, who scored 13 points per game in the last two contests, spoke about the key for tomorrow's game: "We need to start with high intensity from the first minute, as we showed against Barcelona. Everyone who came off the bench brought the same intensity, which helped us a lot to win the game. The last couple of games is just me being more aggressive, going out there and creating situations for myself and others, which helps me get into the game".
"It is nice to play at home, but it doesn't have as much of an effect as we miss a huge part that drives us here", Said the Yellow & Blue captain John DiBartolomeo. "We have to take this stretch (7 of 9 at home) game by game, and I think it will help us in terms of travel and rest. Especially this year, there isn't as big of a difference between playing at home to on the road".
"When we play so many games, our focus is forgetting yesterday and focus on the next day. That was one reason we were able to bounce back after the tough loss in France, and that has to continue. Not too high, not too low".