Credit: BasketNews.lt/V.Sodeika
Credit BasketNews.lt/V.Sodeika

After encountering numerous problems during their pre-season, including five players going down with Covid and the loss of Ante Zizic to injury, Maccabi Playtika Tel Aviv are ready for their first Turkish Airlines EuroLeague challenge.

Maccabi's EuroLeague season tips off in Tel Aviv, where a sold-out crowd will welcome FC Bayern Munich. Maccabi coach Ioannis Sfairopoulos expressed his excitement to play in a packed gym again.

"We are very excited that after almost two years, we are once again playing a EuroLeague game in front of a full house," Sfairopoulos said at a press conference after practice.

Their opponents, Bayern, are faced with their own issues as six players will not be traveling to Tel Aviv: Vladimir Lucic, Andreas Obst, Nihad Jedovic, Leon Radosevic, Gavin Schilling, and Paul Zipser. However, Sfairopoulos doesn't underestimate the German squad.

"It will be a big minefield if we think that Bayern have setbacks and that they will just come and play with whoever they have. We had our problems too, but they are not excuses. We have already played three important matches under these conditions, and they helped us work on our game.

The Greek coach also talked about the process of implementing seven new players into their roster.

"We have seven new players, and we know it will take time until we play the basketball we want. But (starting) tomorrow, we want to show a different picture from last season's EuroLeague."

One of Maccabi's veterans, who will suit up for the Israeli powerhouse for his fourth season in a row, Scottie Wilbekin, talked about the depth of his team's updated roster.

"My importance? Maybe the lowest since I'm here. We have a very deep team, a lot of players can score in different ways. It's going to be interesting and exciting to see how everything connects," said the American guard.

The guard also talked about the expectations placed on Maccabi: "There is definitely a sense of urgency because of the effort the management made to put the team together this year. All the guys in the locker room have a sense of urgency and a feeling that something special can be done together."

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