Israel forward Guy Pnini.
(photo credit: FRANS NELISSEN)
After 17 days on the road, Maccabi Tel Aviv finally returned home on Thursday morning ahead of the start of the BSL and Euroleague regular seasons next week.
Maccabi’s pre-season tour in South and North America didn’t give the team many reasons for optimism, with the yellow-and-blue claiming just a single win in four games.
While the defeats to the NBA ’s Cleveland Cavaliers and Brooklyn Nets were to be expected, Maccabi was confident it would claim the FIBA Intercontinental Cup, only to lose to Flamengo on aggregate in Rio de Janeiro.
“This wasn’t easy physically or mentally, but we learned some important things about the team and now we are ready for the Euroleague and BSL ,” said new head coach Guy Goodes.
“It was very important for the Maccabi Tel Aviv brand to expand abroad and I’m certain we succeeded in that mission. We received a lot of love and admiration in Brazil and the US.”
After a couple days of rest, the Maccabi roster will return to training ahead of Sunday’s BSL opener at Ironi Ness Ziona. The yellow-and-blue will begin its Euroleague title defense four days later when it hosts Limoges of France at Nokia Arena.
After missing the tour across the Atlantic, Greek center Sofoklis Schortsanitis is expected to rejoin the team in training over the weekend.
Sofo failed his medical earlier this summer after being diagnosed with high blood pressure and returning around 15 kilograms overweight. He has since also undergone surgery to treat glaucoma in his eye and worked on his fitness while Maccabi was abroad.
“This is it, all the pre-season games are over and we are ready for the real thing,” said captain Guy Pnini. “It already all begins on Sunday and we need to be ready because no one will do us any favors. The most important thing is that we spent 17 days together and got to know each other and that helped the team gel both on and off the court.”