Sfairopoulos’s lessons of life: Maccabi shakes off Olympiacos loss with dominant win over Rishon

Nov 22, 2021 | Holyland Hoops

Maccabi Tel Aviv took care of business in a game that was basically predetermined when the schedule came out; a blowout win over Maccabi Rishon Le’Zion 86-56 in perhaps a game that wasn’t even that close. In fact, had the Yellow & Blue played most of their regular Euroleague roster, they could have won by 60 points. It was a game that was never, ever in dout as every player who took to the Beit Maccabi court scored.

Coach Ioannis Sfairopoulos was able to give many of the players who haven’t see much playing time some serious minutes as he continues to work off the lack of a preseason. In essence, Rishon was just what the doctor ordered especially after having been manhandled by Olympiacos in Euroleague action the bench boss explained, “I hope we are now in the right momentum and that all of the players can now help in the Euroleague. We are working with them and we trust them, but all of the ‘balagan’ caused by the COVID-19 problems were an issue with our preparations. I hope that we are at the end of this, we need everyone.”

Ioannis Sfairopoulos – Photo Credit: Dov Halickman

The last thing Sfairopoulos wanted was yet another tough and tight game that he had in league play when Maccabi needed to go to double overtime to down Hapoel Eilat last week just ahead of a Double Week in the Euroleague. Everyone from Ante Zizic, to Jake Cohen and Oz Blayzer contributed in the win and that is good news for the Yellow & Blue as they now can get ready for a date in Germany against their former swingman Yovel Zoosman along with fellow Israeli Tamir Blatt at Alba Berlin.

It was very important that we reacted and everyone was pissed off as to how we played in the last game. At the beginning of the Olympiacos game, we missed seven layups and five open 3-pointers, sometimes these are losses of the schedule as they have in the NBA. The other team was more fresh for a reason, we played a second overtime in Eilat. They weren’t so fatigued but we were. The Euroleague season is a marathon and if you lose one game badly it’s not a disaster. We don’t want to exaggerate after a win and after a bad loss. We want to keep our head up and succeed that is why we played well today. This is a lesson of life.”

On the other side of the court, Rishon was at best a disaster zone, nothing more and nothing less. There was no cohesiveness and worst of all not muchy desire from some of the players. The performance that Goodes’s squad put on in last season’s State Cup final with just one import was BY FAR more impressive and much more desirable than what went on in front of owner Itzhak Peri who had put out a personal letter to the fans. After the game Peri was livid and rightfully so. Maybe he thought his coach was going to resign just like Rami Hadar did at Hapoel Beer Sheva.

Guy Goodes – Photo Credit: Dov Halickman

When asked in the press conference, Goodes laughed it off and said he had no comment about what Peri had said and spoke about what went on form his point of view before he moves over to coach the National Team for the Blue & White’s games against Poland and at Estonia.

“The last three practices were much better but the start of the game really influenced the balance of the matchup. Although we held Maccabi to only 19 points in the first quarter, we had problem scoring and the game got away from us quickly as the guys just broke down.”

Goodes also spoke about how this year’s troubles happen to be the first time he is facing these types of issues as a head coach, “This is the first time I’ve had to deal with this type of situation as a coach and it’s a very challenging season. Some years things just go very well and everything falls right into place, but we will have to find a way to pull together and we will have to see what we can do.”

It seems that Darryl Monroe, arguably one of the franchise’s most dominant players over the past number of years will be heading back to Israel to rejoin the club and that will be good news as his basketball IQ is second to none. Along with one or two more moves and Rishon will be able to pull out of this rut and avoid what could be a lengthy relegation battle.

Oz Blayzer – Photo Credit: Basket.co.il

One of the players that Goodes left off of his National Team roster of the 20 players who will be at Monday’s practice is Oz Blayzer who also once upon a time played for Rishon. The Maccabi Tel Aviv forward made sure to show him what he can do on the court with 20 points with 4 triples along with 7 rebounds in a click over 22 minutes of play and Coach Sfairopoulos was very content with his time on the floor, “Oz is always ready to play. There are games he’s not scoring, but I care about who helps the team by doing other things including playing good defense. Today he had a great day and he’s always there to help.”

Blayzer’s fellow forward Roman Sorkin also chimed in about what he saw from his teammates play in a game that everyone was able to contribute, “It’s great that we can all score and we can play together. Oz has been in the league for so many years and it’s fun to play with him. When everyone scores it’s just a great feeling.”

Finally, Blayzer himself commented on the game that was, “I will take advantage of every minute I am on the court and give 200% of myself. I don’t feel like I have to prove anything and my goal is to always do everything that I can when called upon. I still have plenty of friends here at Rishon and wherever I am playing I will give it my all.”

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