From Russia with love: Maccabi Tel Aviv wraps up disappointing Euroleague campaign in St. Petersburg

Apr 9, 2021 | Holyland Hoops

Maccabi Tel Aviv tips off at Zenit St. Petersburg Friday night at 20:00 in their final Euroleague game of the 2020/21 season. The continental campaign for the Yellow & Blue was a disappointment after last season’s success as Ioannis Sfairopoulos’s team was never able to string together more than two wins in a row all year long as they currently sit in 13th place with a 13-19 record. In order for Xavi Pascual’s Zenit, they will need to win their remaining two games in order to claim the final playoff berth

Coach Sfairopoulos spoke ahead of the clash, “We are facing a team that is still in the thick of qualifying to the playoffs, so they will be very motivated. It will be our last EuroLeague game of the season, and for that, we want to play the best we can. We know we are up against a quality opponent that all season long played really well, and we expect a good game.”

Elijah Bryant – Photo Credit: Dov Halickman


“It’s a chance for us to come out on a positive note as they are fighting for a playoff spot, so they will come hungry and ready to play,” Elijah Bryant said. “We know our chances, we are excited to go out there for one last time and finish strong.”

Zenit’s Pascual looked ahead to his teams final two tests, “We have to enjoy the moment because, at the beginning of the season as I said a lot of times, nobody believed that we could achieve this position. So right now the way to approach the game is to enjoy the moment. After making one great season we have an opportunity to win this game and to make one step more. It’s a final, but we have to approach it like this. We play at home, so we need all the supporters to come to the gym and all together to make this effort in order to be closer to the top eight. Maccabi in the last part of the competition won more games. The quality of their roster is very good, their coach is very good. I am sure right now they are playing without pressure, they are playing better. I am sure they are not coming to St Petersburg like on holidays, they are coming to finish the season in a good way. They are an extremely dangerous team.”

Tarik Black – Photo Credit: Euroleague.net


Finally, former Maccabi center Tarik Black who now plays for the Russian squad spoke about facing his ex, “Like I said, we take it game by game, day by day. Right now we have practice, proper preparation prevents poor performance. We are going to prepare right now, to worry about today, keep our eyes peeled on being the best we can be today in preparation. And then, you know, tomorrow we’ll be ready if we do what we’re supposed to do today. They are a really good team, very talented. They swept the number one team in the league this year, beat them twice. I think everybody there has talent, a talent that’s on the roster, they have a great coach, a great club. We have to take them really seriously. You know, this is a really important game for us. And they are a really good team. So we have to take it seriously, regardless of playoff hopes or not. They are a really talented team.”

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