The two Olympiacos Piraeus players will feature in the Greek derby against Panathinaikos Athens on Friday night.
Olympiacos's McKissic, Sikma are ready for 'the best rivalry in the world'
Watching the Greek derby between Olympiacos Piraeus and Panathinaikos Athens is enough for any basketball fan to fall in love. Now, imagine being a player in the middle of it
Reds guard Shaquielle McKissic has taken on the Greens seven times in the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague, while new signing Luke Sikma will get his first taste of the derby at EuroLeague level when the two face off in Round 1 on Friday night. It's fair to say that the two are excited.
"It was always something that was on my [wish] list: to be able to compete in these crazy rivalry games," said Sikma. "I've only watched it on TV, but now to be able to experience it first hand, it's going to be a once-in-a-lifetime experience."
"For me, these are always the biggest games of the year," added McKissic. "I think the amount of weight that the country puts on this rivalry makes it the best rivalry in the world, so it's either go hard or go home."
Advice for playing in the Greek derby
Olympiacos has dominated this rivalry in the EuroLeague in recent times, with the Reds and McKissic having gone 6-1 in their last seven meetings with the Greens. For the 33-year-old, there's only one piece of advice he would offer to newcomers in this derby: get a good night's sleep.
"Until you get on the court and you feel the fans cheering and that vibration inside of you, it's kind of hard to prepare somebody for that," McKissic commented. "You should get some good sleep before, that's about it. That's probably the best advice, because once the ball goes up you have no idea what's going to happen."
Playing in the Greek derby for the first time
Understandably, Sikma – one of five signings by Olympiacos this summer – is raring to get involved. The good thing is that he has plenty of teammates that have experienced this derby many times before, including two of the new additions, Nigel Williams-Goss and Nikola Milutinov, who returned to the club in the offseason.
"It's going to be a great atmosphere, a lot of energy," stated Sikma. Fans will be going crazy. As a competitor, it's the games you want to play."
The 34-year-old American has been able to compete in the German derby in the EuroLeague over the last four years, having represented ALBA Berlin in its battles with FC Bayern Munich, but he notes that it is rivalries such as the Greek derby that enhance the power of the EuroLeague.
"It's what makes the EuroLeague the EuroLeague – to have these rivalries that go back so long and run so deep," Sikma noted. "To be able to play those games every year and see that energy and that rivalry alive each time you play is what makes the EuroLeague great."
Panathinaikos hosts Olympiacos at 19:15 CET on Friday, October 6, at OAKA.