(photo credit: Adi Avishai)
Maccabi Tel Aviv’s preparations for the Euroleague Final Four entered the final
stretch on Wednesday when the team arrived in Barcelona ahead of Friday’s
semifinal encounter with Real Madrid.
Maccabi will be playing in the
Final Four for the first time since 2008, looking to lift its first European
title after six years, and the game against Real couldn’t come early enough for
coach David Blatt.
“Considering last night’s training session we should
already play tonight,” Blatt said at Ben-Gurion Airport ahead of Maccabi’s
flight to Spain.
“Under the circumstances, I think we are as ready as we
can be. We have our plans and so does Real, but the game will be decided by how
we implement our plans.
“We are capable of playing an outstanding Final
Four, but it is important to remember that we haven’t played at a European level
in a few weeks since the quarterfinal series against Caja Laboral Vitoria and I
hope we can adjust quickly to the level of intensity and
One of Maccabi’s keys to success on Friday will be the play
of center Sofoklis Schortsanitis.
Sofo scored just 14 points in Tel
Aviv’s last two wins over Vitoria and hasn’t played more than 15 minutes in any
of Maccabi’s past five BSL games.
“I will do whatever Blatt asks me to as
I have been doing all season,” the Greek center said. “We have given our all so
far this season and now we have just one more game to win to reach the
Over 4,000 Tel Aviv fans are expected to push the yellowand- blue
in its semifinal against Real at Palau Sant Jordi Arena and captain Derrick
Sharp is hoping not to disappoint them.
“Our preparation has been great
and the guys are tuned in and focused and that is the main issue,” Sharp
“Maccabi, its fans and Israel represent the passion to be the best
and win. We carry that on our shoulders and we will try and display it in the