Do or Die: No tomorrow for Maccabi Tel Aviv as they ready for must win game against Real Madrid

Apr 26, 2022 | Holyland Hoops

Maccabi Tel Aviv host Real Madrid on Tuesday at Yad Eliyahu (21:15) as the Yellow & Blue look to get back into their Euroleague quarterfinal series with a win to stave off elimination as they are down 0-2 in the best of five clash.

While Maccabi’s home arena will be packed to the rafters for the game 3 clash, the question is how much effect they will have on their team that have found themselves outplayed in every parameter on the court. Whether it is shooting, defense or 3-point shooting Pablo Laso’s charges have been way, way ahead of Avi Even’s troops.

Avi Even – Photo Credit: Dov Halcikman

However, the Yellow & Blue bench boss believed that his squad can turn it around, “Many years ago my grandparents came from Poland and the last thing they would have believed is what would be here now. We come from a place of belief and that is the most important thing that we have as a team and there is not a second that I don’t believe that we can’t win the upcoming game.”

“We will make our adjustments, come in ready and while Real is a good team we can’t allow them to shoot at the high percentages as they have from three. If we go back to this scenario it won’t be good. We will come in ready to go to stop them and beat them.”

Maccabi’s Roman Sorkin feels that the team can make the adjustments that necessary to get to a game 4 which would take place on Thursday night in Tel Aviv, “Playing at home is a bit different for sure. But we didn’t reach our goal. We’re working on coming in prepared and we have to stop their 3-pointers. We will be ready. We need to give more of a defensive effort and close out the rebound and be ready for them. We are looking ahead as game three is like a final for us.”

Scottie Wilbekin – Photo Credit: Dov Halickman

Scottie Wilbekin, Maccabi’s star guard knows that playing at home will be an advantage for the club but shutting down Real Madrid will still be a very tough task, “It will definitely be a different game here. The atmosphere will be different in our favor and we have to try our best to take the energy that the arena and fans will give us and make it into a positive.”

“It starts with limiting their open 3’s and when we are rotating it’s harder to box out their bigs and they can get easy points like that. If we can force them to play one and one instead of driving and kicking then I think all of those other things that trickle down from that won’t be as effective for them.”

Walter Tavares- Photo Credit: Real Madrid Basket

Maccabi no doubt have had issues with Laso’s big men as Vincent Poirier earned Euroleague MVP honors after last game. Walter Tavares, Real’s giant in the paint according to Sorkin has been limited and the team has to really keep an eye on the French center in game 3, “I don’t think Tavares has played that well in this series. Poirier had one of his best games in the Euroleague this season and unfortunately that was against us. We have to stop him but it’s a team effort. We have to put more effort and come in more prepared. I think we did a good job on Tavares and now we have to do so on Poirier for a full game. We are in a spot where there is no looking back.”

Real just came off of a 71-69 victory over Real Betis on the road in the ACB league and coach Laso was unafraid to play may of his stars oodles of minutes as he wants them to come into Tel Aviv in tip-top shape. Guerschon Yabusele and Nigel Williams-Goss each played over 31 minutes a piece while Sergio Llull, Walter Tavares, Alberto Abalde and Adam Hanga all checked in with over 22 minutes each as they ready for Maccabi as they will want to wrap up the series sooner rather than later.

Guerschon Yabusele – Photo Credit: Dov Halickman

But as Even explained, when you are playing a series, it ain’t over until it’s over. “This is the nature of a series and we have seen it in Europe and the NBA and it’s not new that you lose game one and try your best to win game two but the opposite happens. We believe in ourselves and because of that we are disappointed. We are going into the game with a clear understanding as to how we have to play.”

“There have been enough talk now we have to convert that to actions. Before game two in Madrid I said that Real is probably the most experienced club in Europe. They have an advantage in every aspect connected to experience. We played two games and I believe that things will look different. In the first game we came up short defensively and the second they finished us in the paint and rebound.”

אבי אבן

Avi Even – Photo Credit: Dov Halickman

Wilbekin has one thought and only one thought in mind for Tuesday’s do or die, backs against the wall game, “It was embarrassing to lose that way and lose that bad. You want to win but it was embarrassing and we don’t want that to happen again. I just want to win. We are down 2-0 and if we lose our Euroleague season is over. I just want to win.”

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