First step to the playoffs

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After 24 of 30 gamedays in the EuroLeague and the valuable away victory against Podgorica (89-75) in Montenegro, the ninth-placed FC Bayern basketball team (12-12) is still in the middle of a thrilling fight for a play-off spot. So far, no German club has been able to reach the knockout round of the top eight, but the FCBB has now earned six attempts to make this dream come true- the first on Thursday evening (March 7th, 20:30) at home against the Israeli top team Maccabi Tel Aviv. The EuroLeague has touted the showdown as the "Game of the week", so it will be broadcasted in more than 100 countries worldwide.


The historically good club, Maccabi (52 championships, 44 cup victories) has already won the most important European competition five times (including the Suproleague). This season the playoffs were the declared goal - and after a weak start with only one win in the first eight games, it's clear again that they will stand for nothiing less than the playoffs.

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The Bavarians, on the other hand have a bad memory of the first matchup after they lost 95-71 in Tel-aviv. This was one of the first appearances under the new Maccabi coach Ioannis Sfairopoulos. The EuroLeague record for the former Olympiakos coach to date is ten wins in 17 games. In their home league, they laboriously defended their position (94-92) on Monday evening at  fifth place Maccabi Rishon after two overtimes.

Derrick Williams: "Nobody believed in us - now everything is possible".
"Who would have thought that we would be doing so well at this time of the season,"

FCBB Managing Director Marko Pesic, feeling relaxed before the second duel with Tel Aviv said, "now we have a chance against Maccabi to open the door to the playoffs together with our fans. The bad first matchup was three months ago and the good thing about the game was that the team made a mark afterwards and won three consecutive EuroLeague games. It has all developed very well. Now it's about three playoff places for six teams - anything can happen."

FCBB coach Dejan Radonjic who will of course analyze the first matchup with his men again, said: "Maccabi played really well back then, but we played very, very badly. We had huge problems with rebounding and transition defense," He added, "of course, we have to perform very differently than in Tel Aviv, this time we have to control the rebound and the man to man defense. But we're confident because we have players like Stefan Jovic back and not only won in Podgorica but also performed very well. But we have to repeat that at the highest level for over 40 minutes against Maccabi".

Maccabi's top scorer is someone you know well in the Audi Dome: last year Scottie Wilbekin (12.9 ppg) led his previous team Darussafaka Istanbul into the final series in the narrow EuroCup semi-final against the FCBB and would eventulallly win it. Johnny O'Bryant (10.8 ppg, 5.5 rpg), Tarik Black (10.1 ppg), Michael Roll (9.7), the former Ulmer Deandre Kane (8.8), Center Alex Tyus (7.5) and the ex-BBL professional Angelo Caloiaro (MBC, Bonn/7.5) form a very well-balanced rotation.

The top scorer for the German champion, Derrick Williams (13.9 ppg), hopes nevertheless for a good performance together with his colleagues: "The first matchup was certainly our worst game. But we have consolidated and improved more and more. Also a very difficult part of the schedule lies now behind us. There are still tough games to come, like the next one against Tel Aviv. But we've suffered a lot of setbacks. Nobody believed in us before the season, but we proved that we are a really good team and that anything is possible now."




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