EA7 Milano guard Ricky Hickman had fantastic memories of his time at Maccabi Tel Aviv, including the honour of a EuroLeague championship in 2014, but he is trying to block that out when the two sides meet on Thursday.
Hickman signed for the Italian giants in the summer and is currently enjoying his opening few months with Milano. But when the subject of the opening game in the new EuroLeague season popped up, Hickman was all smiles.
“It’s a special place to play, my years in Tel Aviv have been exceptional,” Hickman told the official EA7 Milano website.
“The fans are behind the team 100 percent every day.
“They make you feel one of them and you always are. It’s little bit like playing for a country, it’s a great responsibility but even the teams that want to beat you in Israel when it comes to the EuroLeague they support you.”
It was that togetherness that made playing for Maccabi so special, as Hickman recalls. Their 2014 EuroLeague victory ironically in Milan was a moment the American will never forget.
“A joy that nobody can take away, the memories are still there,” he admits. “Even to this day I’m still in touch with my teammates and we still talk about it, we still share those moments.
“I remember when we came back to Tel Aviv and we saw the yellow sea, 100.000 fans celebrating with us. It’s unforgettable. The Milan series? It was tough, that arena was very electric, a lot of energy around. Our goal was to get one in Milan and we did. But it was tough.”
The 2013-14 EuroLeague season was one of EA7 Milano’s more successful terms, until that 1-3 series loss to Maccabi. Hickman, now part of the Milano side sees great aspirations for his new team.
“I see the talent to go far but at the same time we need to grow as a unit and make sure we stay as a unit during the difficult time and when the decisive games will be played,” Hickman explained.
“Our goal is the same goal everybody has so the difference will be made by the little things. If we stay together we can surprise a lot of teams. There are no teams we cannot win on a given night and to start from behind is working in our favour.
“I wanted a team where to play for real and showed can still win. I have always thought of Olimpia as a great team with aspirations. I think right now it’s the right place for me and my family. The goal is to raise the highest possible number of trophies.”
Milano host Maccabi FOX Tel Aviv on Thursday night.