“We have to keep a balance” Sfairopoulos and Maccabi ready for CSKA

Nov 11, 2021 | Holyland Hoops

Maccabi Tel Aviv visits CSKA Moscow in Euroleague action on Gameday 9, Thursday at 7pm Israel time as the Yellow & Blue look to continue their five game win streak against the slumping Russian squad who have lost five games in a row across all competitions. Ioannis Sfairopoulos’s team will have all hands on deck including Scottie Wilbekin who had turned his ankle last week for this matchup after having fallen in Israeli league action to Hapoel Holon earlier in the week.

CSKA has had a tough start to the Euroleague season with a 4-4 record and oodles of injuries that has given their Greek bench boss Dimtris Itoudis fits. However, slowly but surely his squad is getting back into action and will cause Maccabi problems as they usually do when they visit Russia.

“We play against a very good team,” Sfairpolous said ahead of the game. “Every year they are one of the first candidates for the Final Four. They lost some games recently and they will want to react. They also got back players from injury to push them in the game. With all this we need to be focused and follow the plan.”

As for the game plan itself, Maccabi will need to watch out for a number of factors that can propel CSKA to the victory. While they have the highest scoring offense so far this season, they also have given up the most points which will force Itoudis’s players to try and clamp down as best as they can to get out of their losing streak.

“They have the best offense and if we don’t play defense we will have problems which is what happened against Holon when we gave up 88 points. They now have players who can play defense as well and we have to be careful because they know they have had issues with their defense,” Sfairopoulos said.

Derrick Williams looked at cutting down CSKA’s offensive rebounds which was something they did extremely well against Baskonia last week limiting them to just 7. It should also be noted that CSKA ranks third and Baskonia 2nd on the offensive glass.

“The key will be our defensive rebounding and they are one of the best teams on the offensive rebounds with Shengelia, Faried, Bolomboy and Milutinov. Also the guards with Hackett and Clyburn. Everyone has to be ready to get rebounds not just the bigs. The guards too. Everyone has to get rebounds.”

Sfairopoulos has always preached that Maccabi has to battle and fight and he knows that if his club lets up just a bit against a team like CSKA they will pay dearly for it, “We need to do all the small things required to be in the game and fight for it. For us it is very important to fight in every moment of the game, because if we have a misstep, CSKA has the quality and experience to punish every small mistake. We need to keep a balance with our psychology and we have to fight for every game. We are not the best team and we are fighting to be one of the best teams.”

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