“We’re happy and playing better” Scottie Wilbekin looks to take Maccabi to postseason promised land with win over Villeurbanne

Mar 31, 2022 | Holyland Hoops

Maccabi Tel Aviv takes on ASVEL Villeurbanne in Euroleague action on Thursday (21:05) at Yad Eliyahu as the Yellow & Blue will look to punch their ticket to the postseason with a pair of games to spare. With three wins out of three games over the past week and change, Avi Even’s squad has turned around their season and now sport a 14-11 record thanks also to the exclusion of the three Russian teams. 

The interim bench boss tried to play down that the club is on the cusp of preparing for a quarterfinal series and didn’t want to look past the French side, whom he expects a good fight from.
“If it happens it will be great,” Even began. “But we aren’t there yet and we have work to do. This is a tough game as they are coming in to battle for the win and we have to be prepared for that. We have a good run that puts us in a situation where we can secure the playoffs. We know how important this game is for us, the club and the fans.”

Ante Zizic who has arguably been Maccabi’s most consistent player this season also spoke about battling for a playoff spot, “These last couple of games mean a lot to us and we weren’t going to give up at any point as we are right there to make the playoffs. It will be a great atmosphere and we are playing pretty good. Everything feels real now.”

“We believe in each other, we found great chemistry on the court and that is what is giving us these results. Everything is open and everyone who is fighting for the playoffs want to reach the Final Four.”

Scottie Wilbekin added his thoughts on clinching a playoff berth on Thursday, “We’re not thinking about that and the situation that we are in. After the crazy season we’ve had it’s a great position with three games left and chance to clinch the playoffs. That is what we are focussed on right now. There have been many things this year to keep us down, but we are happy, we are playing better. I am happy and all the other guys are the same. We know where we come from.”

One of Maccabi’s stars over the past couple of games has no doubt been Keenan Evans who has taken his game to another level with his scoring, leading the break and chalking up a ton of assists.

“Every player at Maccabi Tel Aviv has to be the best that they can be,” Even explained. “I’m happy that Keenan is developing from game to game and he is a great guy, he always wants to improve. I’m very happy that he is continuing this way. But it’s not just one or two players but an entire team.”

Wilbekin spoke about what Derrick Williams has meant to the team recently as the former #2 pick in the 2011 NBA Draft has also been red hot, “It was my dream at the beginning of the season to play like this and it’s great to see it happen. Everyone is playing well and helping the team and one another. I’m grateful for the position that we are in.”

Zizic mentioned that the Maccabi fans are the key component to the success of the club, “The fans are amazing and at home they are our 6th player on our court. It’s not easy for other teams to come here and play against us when it’s a full arena.”

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