Maccabi Tel Aviv held their season opening press conference as Head Coach Neven Spahija spoke about his plans for the upcoming campaign. In addition, Itay Segev was named captain while chairman Shimon Mizrahi talked about the team’s expectations after a disappointing 2016/17.
The key coming into the new year for Spahija will be patience. Patience for the team to jell, patience for the team to get used to the schedule which will see Maccabi play both domestically and in the Euroleague as they did last year, “The players will leave everything on the court to win, we need some patience and we need our fans here in Tel Aviv. I have been the head coach of this team before and I know how the fans are here and I can’t wait for my players to have this same great experience.”
The Croatian continued, “Our main goal is to bring people back to the Menora Mivtachim Arena. Second is to fight for the Euroleague Playoff and of course our bread and butter is to win the Israel League and State Cup.”
Shimon Mizrahi also echoed the coach’s sentiments, “I can’t guarantee that we will win all three titles, but I can say that we will fight and give it our best effort. We gave the coach a Carte Blanche to build the team this year.”
The only holdover from last season was Itay Segev and the native born Israeli was named captain, becoming the team’s youngest ever, “It’s an exciting moment for me and my family. Thanks to the professional staff for choosing me and believing in me. We are very hungry to succeed and my job is to let the other players know about the importance of the club and that we have a lot of work to do.”
Patience of course is a virtue and Spahija will need to get that from both the fans and ownership, “Patience is very important. Sometimes it is very difficult to predict what’s going to happen with a new group of players playing together for the first time. Especially because a lot of our talented young players have not played on this level. We saw some good things and some problems already at this past tournament in Crete, which was our first Euroleague competition and the only time we have seen them play at that level and because of that I ask for patience.”
Sunday night will be the first chance to see if patience will be needed when the Yellow & Blue face Hapoel Tel Aviv in the Winner Cup Preseason Tournament. Will Maccabi pass their first test with flying colors or will the red lights start flashing should they fall? Patience.