Maccabi Playtika Tel Aviv enters the EuroLeague's final phase, recognizing the need to pick up as many wins as possible if it intends for a late playoff push. The 11 game stretch opens up on Thursday as the Yellow & Blue face Bayern Munich (21:30, Live on Sport5 - Channel 55) in the Audi Dome. Giannis Sfairopoulos's squad holds a 10:13 record while the Germans sit in 6th place with 15 wins and 10 losses.
The Israeli champions will be without Yovel Zoosman, who'll be sidelined for the next 4-6 weeks suffering a right knee injury in the last domestic game. Scottie Wilbekin (right thumb) and Othello Hunter (flu), who've missed the past two games, joined the trip, and a final decision about their availability will be announced after shootarounds. Encourage update comes from Omri Casspi, who participated in a contact team practice for the first time in over a month, and he's questionable coming into the matchup.
"We face a Bayern squad that plays really good at their home court, and they've been fighting to hold on to their position in the top 8", Said head coach Giannis Sfairopoulos before departing to Germany. "We have some challenges ahead of us if we want to clinch a playoff berth, and from now on, each game will be a finals type contest. We know that as we get closer to the end of the season, we need to get the results, so we'll need to fight to get there, and for us, Thursday's game is a very important one. We'll need to play a good game on both ends of the court and focus on following our gameplan".
The Greek coach spoke about the transition between the local league to the European competition: "We need to bring the same energy we've been showing in the Israeli League also to the EuroLeague. With the rotations we've prepared the past couple of games, the players will have physical and mental energy to bring it out on the court".
"Everybody is looking forward to this long stretch ahead of crucial games", Added Dragan Bender towards the expected set of games. "We all know the goals that we've set, and that's qualifying for the playoffs. To do that, we need to take it day by day, game by game, and as long as we'll stay focused on each game, that will help us a lot in the long run".
"We remember Bayern beat us here in the first matchup, they are a really good overall team on both ends of the floor, and they've been playing well this season. It's going to be a challenging game for us going out there and playing a good game, especially on the defensive end, cutting down some things they've been doing really well this season".
Angelo Caloiaro noted the importance of this coming contest for the future of the European season: "It's kind of the end of the season in the EuroLeague, so if we are going to make a playoff push, it has to start now. The game in Munich is a very big one for us, we haven't been amazing this season, but we are still in the thick of things, and we can still go on a run with these last 11 games".