Maccabi Tel Aviv hosts Zalgiris on Euroleague Gameday 8 Thursday at 21:00 as the Yellow & Blue will look to improve on their 2-5 record. The Lithuanian squad have been one of the top teams in continental action this young season and hold a 5-2 record under new head coach Martin Schiller.
Over on the Maccabi sidelines, coach Ioannis Sfairpoulos will need to find a way to make do most probably without his big man, veteran center Othello Hunter who looked to have suffered a concussion last game when teammate Sandy Cohen accidentally smashed into his head and face as they were both going for a rebound. Dragan Bender should be good to go after mont having played in two domestic contests this week and may have to play some minutes in the middle for the Yellow & Blue.
There’s no question that this is a very crucial clash for Maccabi with a two game road trip to Spain coming up next week as the last thing coach Sfairopoulos will want is to potentially sit with a 2-8 record. “Tomorrow we have a very important game against Zalgiris, the best offense in the league who’ve won all of their four road games. I expect a very tough game, and we’ll fight for this win with all our power.”
The key to getting back in the win column according to Scottie Wilbekin will be to come out aggressive right off the bat, “We have to come out aggressive from the beginning and try to maintain that aggressivity for the whole game. We want to be the more aggressive team. We’ve had this roster for seven games now, so there’s nothing new or different, we just have to find a way to win the games we’re capable of winning, and we’ve been capable of winning every game we’ve played so far. Just a couple of lapses defensively and offensively, so we got to turn those into good spots for us to end up with the W.”
So far so good.
Both Coach Sfairopoulos and Scottie Wilbekin get the situation and what needs to be done. However, that was before we got to Chris Jones who had some of the most concerning comments ahead of the game which should make the red lights glare for Maccabi.
”We’re going to continue to fight. We’re not looking at the standings right now and not paying attention to the wins and losses. We just got to get better as a team, continue to push ourselves, and work harder every day. I wouldn’t say we need this win, but it’ll be good for us, especially with them being one of the top teams right now.”
There’s a number of very troubling statements there. “We’re not looking at the standings right now and not paying attention to the wins and losses.” When you are a club that is 2-5 you MUST be looking at the wins a losses. The bigger the hole, the harder it will be to dig out of it.
In addition, the fact that he said “I wouldn’t say we need this win,” should raise red flags all over the club. How can a Maccabi Tel Aviv player even utter those words. Sorry to say but the club desperately needs this win. The ship needs to be righted quickly or else it’s going to sink along with the season.
Jones continued when he was asked if there is a sense of urgency going into the contest, “Oh I wouldn’t say sense of urgency I would just say like I said next man up.” Once again Jones needs to understand that yes there is a sense of urgency when Maccabi is 2-5 with a two game swing into Spain coming up.
Right now if I’m Maccabi Tel Aviv management I would be quite worried with what I heard from Chris Jones in this press conference because soon enough the Yellow & Blue will be at the point of no return.