Maccabi Fox Tel Aviv will host Real Madrid as part of the 22nd EuroLeague Round (Thursday, 21:00, Live on Sport5 - channel 55). The Yellow & Blue won all EuroLeague and Domestic league contests in Menorah Mivtachim Arena, as both teams remember Jaycee Carroll's game-winning three-pointer in the first matchup between the clubs in Madrid.
This matchup will be the 60th meeting between the two elite squads, which is the longest-tenured clash in European basketball history. The all-time record stands at 26:23 in favor of the Blancos and 16:10 since the EuroLeague established in 2000. However, in front of the home fans in Tel Aviv, Maccabi leads 6:5 over the Spanish squad.
"We have a very important home game tomorrow playing against one of the candidate teams to make it to the final four", Said head coach Giannis Sfairopoulos at the pre-game press conference. "Real has experienced players that play under the same coach for a couple of years now, so they know how to play together. They come into the game with three straight losses, but we are also coming off a loss, so we will try to stop them and disorganize their offense as we will fight hard for this win. We want our fans to be our sixth player, wanting their support throughout all 40 minutes".
"We need to start our games more concentrated, follow the game plan from the beginning, and not give the opponent to push the game in their rhythm", Analyzed the head coach. "I don't look at the standings, I said that already this season. I'm not kidding, I don't see the standings, I go game by game. It's too early to say this is a crucial game, we play 34 regular-season games, and each one is very important".
"With Amar'e we have one more option, and that's very important against the big lineup of Real", Added Sfairopoulos who was asked about the challenge of adding new players to the rest due to injuries: "It's not easy to continue to play in top form, and that's why we lost some games — adding new players into the rotation with players going out created problems to the chemistry of the team. Lately, we have been playing much better, and this roster has a lot of potential to perform even better. That's what we are looking to do, improving from game to game".
"We had a chance to get the win in Madrid, but we came up short. Now we want to make it right, we haven't lost at home yet, and we will try to continue that streak and get another win", Said Scottie Wilbekin towards to matchup. "Simply, we can play good defense and hit our shots, but it's not that simple. We just have to try to do things that we can control, play good defense, limit offensive rebounds, and if we should put ourselves in a good situation to win".
"I think it's just another game, but we know what we need to do. Last time we played against Real, we lost by one point in the final seconds, but we learned from our mistakes, and hopefully, we don't do the same thing", Told Othello Hunter to reporters before the final practice. "It's actually more difficult playing against a team that has a losing streak because they are coming with everything to change that".
"Mentally, we need to get our mindset right, knowing we can win the game. If everybody thinks that way and comes out to do their jobs, we will be good", Explained Hunter about the most important key for the game. "It's great we have another big body like Amar'e who is an experienced guy against their bigs, I never thought I'd play with the guy".