No love lost between Maccabi and Zoosman as they ready to meet in Berlin

Nov 25, 2021 | Holyland Hoops

Maccabi Tel Aviv heads to ALBA Berlin where they will meet up with former Yellow & Blue swingman Yovel Zoosman on Thursday at 9:30pm Israel time. The Yellow & Blue enter the contest with a 7-4 record having fallen to Olympiacos last Friday night while ALBA comes in at 3-8 as with teams will look to get back onto the winning track in continental play.

With many Maccabi fans set to be in attendance in the former split city of Berlin, Ioannis Sfairopoulos will try to keep his team focussed on the job at hand and not let any of the background noise get to the players as they face Yovel Zoosman for the first time since his departure over the summer.

Yovel Zoosman – Photo Credit: Dov Halickman


Zoosman signed with the Yellow & Blue back in 2015 and spent his formative years under the tutelage of Sfairopoulos who commented about the Israeli’s decision to leave at the season opening press conference when made the following comments, “This is part of the sports and everybody is free to decide what is best for him. It’s true that when I came to Maccabi I gave him a different role, but he he decided to leave. There are no hard feelings.”

While the club referenced Zoosman leaving in their pre-game article along with fellow Israeli Tamir Blatt, those interviewed before the flight out were two players who did not play with Zoos in the past in Kameron Taylor and Derrick Williams. Sfairopoulos himself gave his quote as he was about to board the plane so there was no media present for that either in what just seems to be plain and simple very strange.

“We have an important away game at Alba Berlin who are a team that play really well on their home court,” the Maccabi bench boss began. “Although their results have not been good for them, they have a good game and for sure they will try to win. We will be very concentrated and very focused and play with high energy because we want to come back after the bad game we had in Athens with positive way of playing and try to win the game in Berlin.”

Yovel Zoosman – Photo Credit: Euroleague.net


While Maccabi personnel didn’t refer to their former player, Zoosman himself spoke about the upcoming clash not even mentioning Sfairopoulos by name, “I know their coach, I know their system. It’s very important for Maccabi to be the more physical team on the court. The only way we can stop Scottie Wilbekin is through team defense. He is one of the best players in Europe, we just have to make it as difficult as possible for him. It won’t be an easy task.”

It’s apparent that there is no love lost between the two sides and perhaps that will thaw a bit when they all see each other before the game.

As for the keys to the game on Maccabi’s side, Taylor was crystal clear as to what the club needs to do, “We want to be focussed. If we let them play the way they want, they can be very dangerous. We have to focus on details and defense. From the jump ball all the way to the last second on the clock, we have to focus on our details and being focused on offense and defense.”

Derrick Williams – Photo Credit: Dov Halickman


Williams spoke about wanting to take ALBA out of their comfort zone, “We want to win and we know that they are a good team when they are comfortable so we want to make it uncomfortable for them and really get stops and get easy baskets.”

It seems that there may be plenty of discomfort between the parties going into this game, but Maccabi needs to make sure that any type of feelings they may have for Zoosman for the good or the bad are checked at the door. The Yellow & Blue need to take care of the business at hand and not get caught up in any type of emotions. This is obviously a sticky subject for Maccabi and perhaps by not referencing their reunion of sorts with Zoosman is in fact a disservice and not doing themselves any favors.

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