Maccabi Fox Tel Aviv will make her way back to their home court in Yad Eliyahu as they'll host the Tel Aviv derby against Hapoel Tel Aviv, as part of the 17th Israeli league fixture (Sunday, 21:00, live on Sport5 - channel 55). The Yellow & Blue come into the game owning a 15:0 record in domestic play and a perfect home record as the hosts in Menorah Mivtachim Arena.
Maccabi's newest addition, Amar'e Stoudemire, who just landed on Friday afternoon, took part in practice as he got to meet his new teammates. The big man is expected to make his debut in the Yellow & Blue jersey after he was registered to the game against the city rival. John DiBartolomeo, Tarik Black, Omri Casspi, Nate Wolters, and Yovel Zoosman, who broke his right thumb last week against Maccabi Haifa, will all sit out because of injuries.
The full roster: Elijah Bryant, Scottie Wilbekin, Quincy Acy, Othello Hunter, Deni Avdija, Tyler Dorsey, Jake Cohen, Dori Sahar, Harel Rinski, Yonatan Atias, and Amar'e Stoudemire.
Hapoel comes into the contest after parting ways with coach Ariel Beit Halachmi, which managed the reds to a 6:10 record. Barak Lederer, who worked as Beit Halachmi's assistant coach, will serve as the interim coach in the matchup. The teams met three times this season as the Yellow & Blue came on top in all three games.
"A derby is always a derby no matter the conditions", Said head coach Giannis Sfairopoulos before the meeting against Hapoel. "We need to be very focused, do the job on the best side possible because it's a very important game".
"If I tell you how much playing time Amar'e will get, Hapoel's coach will know how we are planning to use him. Amar'e is essential for us because he gives us solutions inside the paint. We will see how much we will use him, as we'll try to teach him as much as possible in one practice".
"You can have a bad day, that can happen. The players are human, they aren't machines and even machines sometimes stop working", Explained Sfairopoulos about the loss in Munich. "We didn't score from outside, and in some parts of the game, we lost our confidence and couldn't keep the lead when we were up. We were down by 4 in the last couple of minutes, we tried to come back, but we couldn't do. It can happen".
"It's a derby. We aren't really focused on them, we are always trying to focus on how to prepare best for our game", Said Jake Cohen towards the contest. "The fact that they are in a bad momentum and they changed the coach is secondary for us. Our permanent concern is what we can do to get better to win the game".
"This game is important for our fans, club, so we are worried about the derby right now. Real Madrid will come afterward. First of all, winning on Sunday", Told Cohen. "My expectations are high from a player (Stoudemire) with his caliber, he has been around this game for a long time. Obviously, he will need to pick up the offense really quickly, there is a big challenge ahead of him, but I'm sure he will handle it in the best possible way".