Maccabi Tel Aviv hosts Panathinakos on Euroleague Gameday 15 at Yad Eliyahu on Thursday at 21:00 in the second of two continental matchups this week. On Tuesday the Yellow & Blue disposed of Zenit St Petersburg 82-71 and moved their record to 10-4 while the Greek squad beat Fenerbahce 81-78 and are 9-5 in the standings in a game that was played behind closed doors.
Maccabi Head Coach Ioannis Sfairopoulos will once again be without four of his main players, Tarik Black, Omri Casspi, Nate Wolters and John Dibartolomeo as new addition Aaron Jackson is only expected to arrive next week. “We will do our best to be ready. All EuroLeague teams play two games this week, which means everyone is in the same circumstances. We want to come in mentally ready, fighting for our fans that will be pushing us to get the win”.
The coach also talked about the opponent at hand, “They’ve been playing well lately. They have good and experienced players that play top-level basketball. They added (Tyrese) Rice and (Jimmer) Fredette, players that add to their team. We need to respect their whole roster, they’ve been the best offensive team this EuroLeague season. We need to fight hard to match up to our standards. Rick Pitino is an excellent coach, as all the European coaches respect him.”
Forward Angelo Caloiaro also looked ahead to the upcoming clash, “They have a lot of players. Deshaun Thomas can really shoot the ball, he is a good player. Still, it will be a team effort. The defense is a big difference this season, when you get stops, it’s easier to get on transition. It’s another game, we always focus on the game that is in front of us.”
Panathinaikos coach Rick Pitino who rejoined the team just last month spoke about what type of game he is expecting in Israel, “Maccabi is the best defensive team in the EuroLeague. They are extremely physical and like us they have one of the strongest homecourt advantages in basketball. We know it will be a difficult game. This stretch, in my 40 plus years, is as difficult a stretch as I have seen. Scoring against their defense will be a key. We have to make sure that we are physical in our offense.”