Maccabi Tel Aviv New Generation Alber + Sahar & More, Oz Blayzer Stars, Sfairopoulos & Hasin Connection: 3-Pointers on Maccabi’s win over Hapoel Haifa

1) Maccabi Tel Aviv playing without 6 players or so are still a much more dominant squad than Hapoel Haifa and there’s not much one can do about it in the 83-74 win. The Yellow & Blue play in the Euroleague and have a much larger budget despite having four young players in the lineup. But that’s the beauty of Maccabi, a chance to see the next generation of players on display. Eidan Alber, Dori Sahar, Yonatan Atias, Sandy Cohen and Max Heidegger all stepped onto the court for Ioannis Sfairopoulos’s squad with the 5 playing a combined 52 minutes in the win. There is a future and it’s bright especially seeing Alber and Sahar who both grew up in the Maccabi youth department and didn’t look out of place one iota on the court. “It wasn’t easy today for the young guys today because they didn’t have minutes until now. During our short preparation time that we had, I had to prepare for the Euroleague games. But they were ready and responded well. Today you saw the new generation of Maccabi Tel Aviv and how we want to invest with the young guys. I’m excited of how we played and how we controlled the game.”

2) Eidan Alber was a star with the Under-20 Israel team that won the 2019 European Championship and got his feet wet last season with Nes Ziona. The 20-year old spoke to The Sports Rabbi a few months ago and discussed returning to Maccabi and rejoining the team along with understanding that there are expectations when a player puts on the Yellow & Blue uniform. After the game when he spoke to the media his face was beaming with joy as to his debut for Maccabi as he knows that he’s got to be ready at any moment’s notice whether it’s in the Israeli league or in the Euroleague he explained, “It’s very important that I am prepared due to the situation with COVID-19. You saw last week with Barcelona that a player who we played against the U20’s with Spain Sergi Martinez played over 30 minutes and was a key part to the Barcelona’s win. I have to stay ready.” As for what he’s learning as being a part of the Euroleague squad he couldn’t stop smiling, “I learnt so much from the flights and the games. I told my dad about how I shook Spanoulis’s hand as well as just seeing and being around the intensity of the games. These will be stories to tell my grandchildren!”

3) Oz Blazyer was the star of the show for Maccabi as the new recruit scored 19 points, pulled down 8 rebounds and dished out 4 assists in the win but it wasn’t just the stats that told the story about Blazyer. He came out shooting with confidence and was all over the floor, diving got balls and fighting for rebounds. So far the Blayzer signing has looked like a stroke of brilliance especially with the quality minutes the forward is also playing in the Euroleague. The big man was happy to get back to domestic league action, “I’m very happy that Israeli basketball is back and I’m happy about the win as we played with a lot of energy even though we have some injuries.” As for his own play, Blayzer was content with his showing, “I feel good where I am and I’ve been given a lot of confidence from the coaching staff. I’m working on all different basketball aspects.” What does he think about tipping off against his former team Rishon Le’Zion in the semifinals? “It will be interesting, but I’ll leave all of love is off of the court. I just want to win.”

Ogen Amos

Another interesting fact from the game was that Maccabi coach Sfairopoulos and Haifa bench boss Elad Hasin were both assistant coaches under Pini Gershon at Olympiacos during the 2006/07 season. This was the first official game that they faced off against one another and both spoke glowingly about the other, “We fought together me and Elad,” Sfairopoulos said. “We have our schedules now and I don’t go out as I am staying at home. But I’m happy to meet him whenever I can as he is a good guy and a good coach.” Hasin returned the compliments, “It was nice and interesting to coach against Ioannis. He is a great coach and is doing a good job. All in all it was a lot of fun.”

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