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Abundance of riches for Maccabi Tel Aviv?

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Maccabi Tel Aviv has been hot in the last two weeks, with everyone contributing victory after victory. Whether it was in the Euroleague game or in the activities of the Israeli league, the yellow-blues simply can not stop picking up the victories.

Ioannis Speiropoulos’ side will try to continue their beautiful run recently against Basconia Vitoria, Spain in the continental competition on Friday night, as they will look for a fifth consecutive Euroleague victory, a sign that the yellow-blue has not hit since. 2019/20 campaign when the team has won at least five games three separate times.

There is no doubt that Maccabi is playing its best basketball since the epidemic hit in full force in March 2020, but that does not mean that the coach of Sapropoulos does not have difficult decisions with his staff, which currently consists of 15 top professionals. Hoops.

Euroleague regulations stipulate that a team can only dress 12 players per game and this rule has left a number of Maccabi members out and should watch their teammates from the stands and not on the bench or as participants themselves on the floor.

Recently the three actors who had to dress up in street clothes were Jake Cohen, Oz Blazer and Oded Brandwein. While Brandwein is not expected to play in Europe, Cohen and Blazer have been consistent participants over the past few years.

The guard of Maccabi Tel Aviv, Scotty Wilbkin, delivered a beautiful pass behind the back during the occupation of Hapoel Jerusalem 104-80 by the yellow-blues this weekend. (Credit: Danny Maron)

The trio does get to play in the Israeli league because only five foreigners can register for the game and Maccabi – with nine imports – has to sit three of them, which opens up staff places for Israelis, in this case Cohen, Blazer and Brandwein, to get playing time.

While this is certainly not ideal, it does give them the opportunity to show off their wares and compete, but of course their main goal is to return to the squad of 12 players registered for Euroleague activity.

Cohen was a regular in the Euroleague at Maccabi during his second term in the team between the years 2017-2020 while last season he moved to the Spanish ACB League and played with Obradiro. Now he is back with the yellow-blue, he saw his land time evaporate due in part to 9 imports, but even now in the mix is ​​the young Roman Sorkin, who joined the team during the summer from Maccabi Haifa.

Sorkin plays as a power forward, which is the same position as Cohen, and played excellently even though he has very little experience at this level and won his place in the lineup after making a number of impressive appearances.

For the 31-year-old Cohen, it is not easy to sit idly by and he wants to be there on the floor with his friends in what are always Euroleague games. However, Cohen – who scored 10 points with a pair of threes along with four rebounds and four assists against Bnei Herzliya earlier this week – will have to increase his level of play in the Israeli league to prove Spiropoulos. And his roster that he deserves to replace in the land ball.

“I’ve been in the situation many times before,” Cohen began. “It’s about the nature of the beast here Maccabi with 15 players and that’s how it goes sometimes. The only thing you can control is how you react to it.
“Are you going to lower your head and freak out or keep working and doing the things you do and do your routine and stay ready? Fortunately, my experience has taught me to stay ready and be patient. Hopefully Euroleague minutes will come.”

One of Maccabi’s nine importers, Mathias Lasort, is on a short-term contract that will expire at the end of November if the club does not renew it, which is a reasonable scenario, so that he will cancel one barrier in the way of Cohen and Blazer.

“I’m ready whenever the coach calls me,” Blazer said. “It could be in a week or a month but I will continue to work hard, I will continue to believe and I know my opportunity will come eventually.”

During the 2019/20 campaign, Cohen scored 5.4 points in 13 minutes per game and played an important role in the team as one of its vocal leaders. Obviously he would like to return to the same position he had two seasons ago, but in the end Cohen the Open understands that the team is playing well at the moment and it may be necessary to set aside time for changes for now. .

“It’s important to me, but the reason I’m here is to help Maccabi win games. If the coaches or whoever feels the best way to win games is that I will not play then it’s my job and I have to accept it. I’m not going to like it and I’m going to work to change It.

“Like I said, I’ve done this before, and I hope we continue to play well enough to win games. This is not really the right time for me to demand minutes. We’re playing well now, it’s something I’m having a hard time dealing with on a personal level. Of course I want to play and want to contribute. But that’s how it goes when you play in a big team and you have to be modest. “

Sapropoulos knows full well that he has quality players on the roster and some will play while others will not. But at no point in time will he ever look at them as separate squads.

“I am very pleased with their game but I do not divide the team into units,” said the coach of the Greek Maccabi. “For me all the players are important and all the players the same. Although some players may not have participated in the Euroleague, they are not a separate unit. They are part of the team and we have one staff. Everyone should be ready to play and everyone is important to the team. And some need to push themselves harder. “

Sapropoulos spoke specifically about the challenge of figuring out which players to play and which not to play two weeks ago, and as he said, everything is hard love.

“I have 15 good players who are willing to help and it’s hard to decide who to keep out and who to stay out of.
“As a coach I love my players and I have a relationship with them like my kids as their dad. Helping them, supporting them and being critical and sometimes I have to say no. They have to fight and if they get everything easily, they will not fight for their lives. That’s how I treat them. To my players, with love and respect, and sometimes I am tough. “

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