Maccabi Playtika Tel Aviv will head out on the road to compete versus Olympiacos Piraeus as part of the 4th EuroLeague fixture of the 2020/21 season (Friday, 21:00, live on Sport5 - channel 55). Giannis Sfairopoulos, who's been a part of Olympiacos for seven seasons, returns to his homeland as his squad has a challenging task against a difficult opponent whose won their past two gamedays against Panathinaikos and Milano.
"Olympiacos is an excellent team, a different one from last season. Although they lost their first game, they won their last two, and they're in a really good momentum", Said head coach Giannis Sfairopoulos before departing to Greece. "We need to be very focused against them and improve our game a lot. I can't say we are in a good or bad momentum because we won the first contest but lost the other two in the closing minute".
"Sometimes, you need to take care of the small details, so we need to change the chip in our minds and go with a different approach to fight harder and jump for every ball, not letting the game progress towards the closing minute. However, if it does go there, we need to be more ready to win this game".
Olympiacos is led by head coach Georgios Bartzokas who built a roster surrounding his Greek core, including veterans Vassilis Spanoulis, George Printezis, Kostas Papanikolaou. The Reds offseason splash was Kostas Sloukas, who returned after 5 years under Zeljko Obradovic in Fenerbahce. Charles Jenkins, Aaron Harrison, Livio Jean-Charles, and Hassan Martin are five new faces to add to the mix who could push the Olympiacos over the hump.
Last season, the Yellow & Blue came on top in both matchups against the Reds. In Piraeus, Maccabi dominated the hosts 90:65 as Tyler Dorsey and Scottie Wilbekin each hit 4 shots from deep for 19 points. At Menora Mivtachim Arena behind 11 thousand roaring Yellow & Blue fans, Wilbekin drilled a game-winner, rallying back to win it 71:70.
Ante Zizic spoke regarding the value of playing at home these days, if at all: "We can see more road wins this season. You got teams like Maccabi, Olympiacos, Fenerbahce, etc. who have great fan bases and play much better at their home court with the fans' support. But right now, when you have empty gyms, you don't always feel the difference between playing at home or on the road".
"There is a slow process adjusting to European basketball, but for me, it isn't a big deal because I grew up playing this style of game", Said Zizic. "I expect it to take some time to adjust but not too much, I guess game by game, I'll get in better shape and better rhythm".