Maccabi Playtika Tel Aviv will finish out the final six EuroLeague regular-season games in the next two weeks as they'll start on Thursday on the road against Zalgiris Kaunas (21:00, Live on Sport5 - Channel 55). Although the Yellow & Blue lost a real chance to qualify for one of the top 8 teams who'll clinch a playoff berth, Giannis Sfairopoulos's squad wants to end their European campaign on a good note. Othello Hunter didn't join the team and will miss out Thursday's matchup due to a leg injury.
These teams have a rich history facing one another 18 times since 2000, as Maccabi holds a 17:9 edge over the Lithuanian squad. In the first meeting between the sides this season, the Yellow & Blue demolished the Greens 85:57 in Menora Mivtachim Arena behind a 16 point performance by Tyler Dorsey. In Kaunas, Zalgiris has had the upper hand with three straight wins as the last one goes back to 2016.
"Zalgiris are fighting to qualify, so we expect a tough and demanding game", Said head coach Giannis Sfairopoulos before departing. "We need to be focused, play with high energy, and adjust to their tempo to play good basketball. It's a chance for us to get back in positive ways and results. We aren't happy with this situation, and we want to finish this season as best as possible".
"Our goal is to finish the season with as many wins as possible, improve from game to game, and perform well in the EuroLeague", Told Oz Blayzer about the team's mindset heading into the final European stretch. "This season is different for all of the teams, you can't assume that if you won by a significant margin, it would happen again. The season is so dynamic you can't really rely on the last game between the teams, we need to concentrate on Thursday's contest while implementing the strengths that led us to the victory in Tel Aviv".
Chris Jones, who scored a season-high 15 points against the Lithuanian squad, spoke towards the mentality going into the matchup: "We need to keep focusing on ourselves, building that identity regardless of the standings. If we go in with the right intensity, detail about the small things, we can give ourselves a chance to get a road win".