Every season, as soon as the calendar comes out, there are certain games that fans circle on the calendar and rush to buy tickets for. When it comes to Maccabi FOX Tel Aviv, every home game is a spectacle and the team’s faithful fans even carefully plot out road trips to follow the team, too. Here are some of the 2019-20 games that will stir up extra interest for the club and its supporters.
Round 3: Home opener against the Serbian champs
Maccabi starts the season with back-to-back road games before Serbian champion Crvena Zvezda mts Belgrade arrives in Round 3 for the Israeli champs' home opener. The fans in Tel Aviv will be eager to see their heroes take the floor for the first time. The game will also see Maccabi’s new point guard, Nate Wolters, face his former team. These teams are an even 4-4 in past matchups, with Maccabi winning three of four at home. Maccabi started the season 1-8 last season and didn’t record its first home win till Round 10, so the players and fans will be raring to protect the Menorah Mivtachim Arena floor in this game.
Round 6: Coaches face former teams
Two of Europe’s top coaches face their former teams in this one; Olympiacos head of bench David Blatt led Maccabi to the 2014 EuroLeague title and two other Final Fours in his six years as Maccabi head coach. He also won a pair of continental titles with Maccabi as an assistant coach. Maccabi boss Ioannis Sfairopoulos spent four seasons on the Olympiacos sidelines and guided the Reds to a pair of EuroLeague championship game appearances. Both remain beloved by their former team's fans.
Round 9: Sweet memories of Milan
Some of Maccabi’s finest moments in recent years have come in the fashion capital, which the team visits to face AX Armani Exchange Milan in this November clash. In 2014, Maccabi captured home-court advantage in its playoff series against Milan by winning Game 1 on the road. After taking the series at home, Maccabi went back to Milan for the Final Four where it knocked off CSKA Moscow and Real Madrid to take the crown. In its three visits to Milan since, Maccabi has lost a pair of close games and erupted for 111 points in a January 2018 win.
Round 15: The Greens come to town
Over the past two decades, Maccabi and Panathinaikos OPAP Athens have played in the continental title game three times and met in a playoff series, too. Their rivalry is one of the richest in European basketball. The Greens have won five of their previous six meetings, but many of their duels over the years have been nail-biters. Panathinaikos rolls into Tel Aviv with a pair of former Maccabi players on its roster in DeShaun Thomas and Tyrese Rice, the latter of whom was the 2014 Final Four MVP when Maccabi won its last EuroLeague title to date.
Round 32: Home finale against old friend
Maccabi has lost three in a row against Zalgiris Kaunas and its head coach, Sarunas Jasikevicius, who starred as the point guard on Maccabi’s back-to-back EuroLeague-winning squads in 2004 and 2005. Those losses last season kept Maccabi out of the playoffs; Zalgiris finished eighth with a 15-15 record, while Maccabi placed 10th at 14-16. Maccabi also plucked the starting point guard from Zalgiris over the summer, Nate Wolters, which adds spice to this already hot matchup.