Maccabi Playtika Tel Aviv (7:10) starts the second round of the 2020/21 EuroLeague season at the Mercedes-Benz Arena against Alba Berlin (7:10) as part of the 18th gameday (Thursday, 21:00, Live on Sport5 - Channel 55). Giannis Sfairopoulos's squad beat the German side 80:73 in the season opener and now will start the push to reach the end of the second round with a spot between the top 8 teams in the top European competition.
"We face a very good team. Although Alba has players absent, they've played well", Said head coach Giannis Sfairopoulos, before departing to Germany. "In my opinion, the fact they're missing their coach and several players makes the other squad members get together and fight even harder than before".
"On our side, it's very important to fight for every possession because Alba is a team that looks to control the rhythm, and if their opponents allow them to play their game, then they'll have difficulties, so we want to control the rhythm of the game. The most important thing is to be ready mentally to fight, and if we are in that mode, there won't be any surprises".
The start of the second round: "We will fight for every game heading into it, and in the end, we will see where we are in the standings. We showed when playing well that we can win in tough circumstances, so it's very important to give the maximum every game focusing only on the next one. I'm delighted with how we practice, improve, and watch the team unite more and more. We have good potential for the future".
Alba enters the contest without four of their top scorers, Marcus Eriksson, Peyton Siva, Luke Sikma, and Niels Giffey, who are sidelined due to injuries. In addition to them, the Germans head coach Aito Garcia Reneses, who was tested positive for COVID-19, won't be the man in charge on the sidelines as Israel Gonzales will replace him.
"It's up to us even though we are coming into the second round owning a losing record", Added Yovel Zoosman about Maccabi's situation in the standings. "We will complete the needed task, and I genuinely believe we can advance to the playoffs. Now we need to concentrate game by game, and after playing against each of the teams in the first round, we know each club's strengths and weaknesses. Now we are focused on Alba, and we head out to get the win".
Elijah Bryant, who scored 9 points in the first matchup between the two clubs, talked about the keys for Thursday's game: "We need to focus on ourselves and continue to come with great energy throughout the whole game regardless of who we are playing. They have some guys down, but these are still high-level players that can execute at a high level".
"Having these guys (Casspi, DiBartolomeo, and Zoosman) back will help us be deeper and give coach more options and allows us to be a better team. In these last games in the Israeli League, we focused on improving, so for us as a team, the key is making progress in every game".