“Our goal is to finish the season with as many wins as possible” Oz Blayzer looks ahead to Maccabi Tel Aviv’s clash at Zalgiris

Maccabi Tel Aviv heads to Lithuania to face Zalgiris in a Euroleague Gameday 31 clash on Thursday at 21:00 Israel time as the Yellow & Blue will try to dismantle the hosts just as they did in their game in the Holy Land earlier in the season. Martin Schiller’s squad will be looking for revenge from the previous meeting which saw Zalgiris fall 85-57 while also attempting to remain in the postseason hunt with their 15-15 record good for 11th place.

Ioannis Sfairopoulos – Photo Credit: Dov Halickman

Ioannis Sfairopoulos’s team enter the game with a 11-17 record and are in 14th place overall as the club’s goal is to play as well as possible over the final six games and perhaps finish with a .500 record at the end of the campaign.

Chris Jones – Photo Credit: Dov Halickman

Chris Jones, who has begun to come into his own over the past couple of months, looked at exactly that point, to play as well as they can as the season heads into the stretch run, “We’re focusing on ourselves and have an identity about ourselves no matter what the situation is. We want to be a tough team and we know that we’re fighters and continue the progress which have been making. I hope we can play with great intensity and get the win on the road.”

“We’re not happy with the situation that we have been though and we want to finish as best as we can the next six games,” explained Sfairopoulos. “We are trying to keep the intensity and motivation. This is our goal.”

Oz Blayzer – Photo Credit: Dov Halickman

Israeli forward Oz Blayzer who is making his first foray into they Euroleague this season echoed his coach’s comments, “Our goal is to finish the season with as many wins as possible, improve from game to game, and perform well in the EuroLeague.”

Maccabi never got off to good start this season and it always felt that they were playing catch up week to week and game to game. It never felt that the Yellow & Blue were really in control of their own destiny against many teams that were far surpriser than them. With only 3 winning streaks of two games, Sfairopoulos’s team couldn’t find a groove similar to a car that just kept stalling as it trued to get out of the garage.

Chris Jones – Photo Credit: Dov Halickman

Sfairopoulos said that part of the issue is that the Euroleague has seen a gap that widened this season due to the coronavirus, “A few years ago it was very competitive. Euroleague teams that are more wealthy and haven’t been hurt so much during the pandemic, have been able to continue to play well. Barcelona, CSKA, Milano have had less damage and have been able to keep the gap as it was before the pandemic.”

That being said, the 2020/21 campaign has been like no other and the players feel that as well on the court, Blayzer stated, “This season is different for all of the teams, you can’t assume that if you won by a significant margin, it would happen again. The season is so dynamic you can’t really rely on the last game between the teams, we need to concentrate on Thursday’s contest while implementing the strengths that led us to the victory in Tel Aviv.”

Oz Blayzer – Photo Credit: Dov Halickman

Are the players looking ahead to their next contract for the upcoming season in order to put this one already behind them? “I hope nobody is thinking about next year and that can hurt us in a big way,” Jones said. “We have more Euroleague games and play strong the rest of the way in Israel.”

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