Maccabi Tel Aviv hosts Anadolu EFES at 21:15 this evening (Wednesday) at Yad Eliyahu on Gameday 27 of the Euroleague regular season. The Yellow & Blue enter the contest with a record of 18-8 and are in 4th place while the visitors are at the top of the standings with a record of 23-3.
Coach Ioannis Sfairopoulos knows that his team has a big task ahead of them with one of the league’s most potent offenses led by MVP candidate Shane Larkin who missed the last couple of games due to injury but leads the competition with 22 points per game and an efficiency rating of 25.7. Along with Larkin, Coach Ergin Ataman will have Bryant Dunston back after also being out injured while Vasilije Micic, Rodrigue Beaubois, Tibor Pleiss and Chris Singleton will all be tough to stop.
“We have a big challenge in front of us,” said Sfairopoulos. Playing against Efes that comes into the game with 11 consecutive wins and 12 straight away wins. They have quality, experience, but we play on our home court, we have the best defense in the EuroLeague, and we will try to bring it tomorrow to the court. We need to defend them as a unit, our players always need to be concentrated and be ready to defend. On the other side of the ball, we need to find the best way to attack, read the game and punish their disadvantages. As always, in our home court, we need our fans by our side for all 40 minutes of the game.”
Scottie Wilbekin who himself is an MVP candidate will go head to head with Larkin also looked ahead to this evening’s clash, “We want to win, but it has less to do with them and more to do with us because we are in a close fight for home-court advantage with CSKA, so that’s what we are focused on. We prove we always fight, never give up here in Tel Aviv, so I don’t expect anything less than that tomorrow.”
“We need to focus on ourselves, keep everything in our control, and play a good game defensively” said guard Elijah Bryant. “They are a really good team, but we are playing at home, if we do all of those we have a good chance.”
EFES Coach Ataman is certainly familiar with Maccabi and understands that he has a challenging game in front of his team, “We are going to have a tough game on the road. Maccabi Fox Tel Aviv is a team that has very similar features to our system, especially with its perimeter players’ pick and roll play and high-tempo basketball. We must perform a dynamic defense in order to stop their fastbreaks with controlled game. I believe that each player’s doing his job the best way without being affected by the atmosphere will carry us to the victory.”