Maccabi bulks up with ‘Sofo’

Greek center signs on to give yellow-and-blue inside presence.

Sofo 311 (photo credit: Maccabi Tel Aviv website)
Sofo 311
(photo credit: Maccabi Tel Aviv website)
Maccabi Tel Aviv has been searching for a big-man all summer. On Thursday, it found the biggest man European basketball has to offer.
Greek center Sofoklis Schortsanitis signed a two-year contract to play for the yellow-andblue, leaving Olympiacos after five seasons.
“As soon as I decided not to continue in Greece I looked for a big, organized and prestigious club that I could contribute to and I found all of this at Maccabi Tel Aviv,” said the 25-year-old Schortsanitis, who is also known as Sofo and Baby Shaq, because of his massive frame of 2.06-meters and 150-kilograms.
“I’m really excited about coming to Tel Aviv and the Nokia Arena. I know the club well, the tradition, the fans, the great achievements, and I will do everything to continue and glorify the name of Maccabi Tel Aviv.”
Sofo is new coach David Blatt’s sixth signing of the summer, joining Tal Burstein, Elishay Kadir, Richard Hendrix, Mikhail Torrance and Jeff Foote, who will likely spend the coming season on-loan to gain some European experience.
“I’m delighted with this signing,” Blatt said.
“One of our main targets in building the team was to sign a big-man who could act as a target under the basket. We were patient and eventually found one of the best centers in Europe, who is also one of the more special and attractive players you can find.”
Schortsanitis, who is currently preparing for the FIBA World Championships with the Greek national team, was selected 34th overall by the Los Angeles Clippers in the 2003 NBA draft, but never got his chance in the US.
He joined Olympiacos ahead of the 2005/06 season, and despite being a key member of the team in recent campaigns, his numbers were always quite modest.
In 19 Euroleague games for the team last season, Schortsanitis averaged 7.2 points and 2.5 rebounds and in 71 games in the competition he has never played more than 26 minutes.
“Our fans waited for a big player and here he comes,” Blatt added. “He has been a significant contributor to the Greek national team and Olympiacos for several years and I’m very happy he decided to join us.”