PREVIEW! “Our job is going to be very difficult, but we will fight to do our best” – Coach Ioannis Sfairopoulos ahead of Maccabi Tel Aviv vs EFES

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Maccabi Tel Aviv visits Anadolu EFES on Gameday 16 of Euroleague action with tipoff slated for 19:30 Israel time this evening. The Yellow & Blue enter the contest with an 11-4 record while the Turkish squad comes in with 12 wins and 3 losses. Ioannis Sfairopoulos’s squad will once again be without Tarik Black, Omri Casspi, Nate Wolters and John Dibartolomeo and are still awaiting the arrival of guard Aaron Jackson.

With Black out for a minimum of a month and perhaps longer according to his Instagram post, Maccabi are certainly in the market for a big man to take some of the load off of veteran center Othello Hunter.

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Ergin Ataman enters the clash with arguably the top player in the continent in Shane Larkin as he will go one on one with Scottie Wilbekin this evening in Istanbul. Also, Vasilije Micic brings his fine play to the table for EFES as does Krunoslav Simon who will threats as well.

Ataman spoke about facing the Yellow & Blue with the teams so close in the standings and what the keys will be for his team to win the game, “The Maccabi Fox Tel Aviv game is very important for the standings. They have athletic big men under the rim that defend well and they are a team that has an effective isolation with its perimeter players and effective pick-and-roll offense. To win this game we must play good defense, must be patient in offense and must play with good shot selection.”

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Micic spoke about the upcoming clash as well, “We are gonna face a team that is coming from a good run, they won a lot of games even though they are missing some players. They have good chemistry and they play tough basketball. We are also currently playing nice basketball. I expect a good game. Hopefully, the arena will be full and it’s gonna be something that everybody wants to see.”

Sfairopoulos also looked at ahead to the challenge that his Maccabi team will face, “We have a difficult game, facing a really good team holding the best offense per possession in the EuroLeague, especially at home. They are an offensive-minded club, and they will be extra motivated after the last home loss against CSKA.”

“Our job is going to be very difficult, but we will fight to do our best, we know what to do, and we will need to follow the gameplan. Defensively we will need to play good and on the offensive end to take advantage of each possession we have. The news about the injured players is the same, we knew we would need to play in Istanbul without Tarik (Black) and Omri (Casspi).”

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Defense will be the way to go for Maccabi explained Angelo Caloiaro, “It’s kind of always what we preach that’s defense. We got to come out and play well defensively to give ourselves a chance.”

The forward also spoke about the keys for his team, “The (roster) situation is obviously not an ideal one for the team, but we just need to continue to play hard, work, try to stick to our gameplan as much as possible, and hopefully, things will work out for us”.

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Othello Hunter played the defense card as well, “Play defense, we need to have a solid game on that end, stop some of their key guys and just rebound, run the floor, stop transition, and play that way.”

Hunter also talked about EFES star Shane Larkin as well, “We don’t have a special plan to stop Larkin, we need to figure it out as a team. He is one of those elite offensive players, he is quick, so we have to make it hard for him to score. We fight hard, play with our hearts, and everybody gives everything they have.”

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