Desperate to recreate the form that led them to the EuroLeague title in 2014, Maccabi FOX Tel Aviv open their campaign on the road to Brose Bamberg on Thursday.
Since their triumph in 2014, Maccabi’s EuroLeague form had dipped dramatically, as they have been unable to reach the post-season in the last two campaigns and in the domestic Israeli league, one that they have called their own, Maccabi have been knocked out at the semi-final stage in the last two seasons. Something that for 22 years, was unheard of.
Now, in an attempt to dust themselves off and start a new and more positive chapter, Maccabi travel to northern Germany on Thursday to take on Brose Bamberg to start their bid for a EuroLeague Playoff spot that, until 2015 was the norm.
“About Bamberg, it is an experienced team with a lot of good players, even when they changed a lot of players in their roster,” said Maccabi coach Neven Spahija. “Whoever came had enough EuroLeague experience, and they have a great coach.
“They have been together for a couple of years and know their system well. They have been playing persistently for many years. It is a good enough opponent for our first game. Our team wants to improve in every game and the most important thing is to see that improvement.”
Brose Bamberg have drastically changed their roster with the most notable absentee being prized forward Nicolo Melli, who signed with EuroLeague champions Fenerbahce in the off-season. One component from Maccabi’s 2014 victory was Ricky Hickman, who has joined the club and will face off against his old club.
Maccabi forward Alex Tyus admits that he is not familiar with the German side’s set-up this year, apart from playing against his old team-mate Hickman. But for his side side, it’s simply about getting better with each day that passes.
“We have to come together and get better everyday,” Tyus said.
“What you be our main focus, whatever we are working on – offence, defence, chemistry: we have to come together and get better everyday. I don’t really know too much about Bamberg this year but I know that my old team-mate Ricky Hickman is there. They have a really good coach with a very good coach. I played for him when I was in Italy, so I know they will come out ready to play.”