Maccabi Fox Tel Aviv point guard Norris Cole is fired up for his team’s EuroLeague clash with Baskonia Vitoria Gasteiz at the Fernando Buesa Arena tonight.
It’s a crunch match for both teams, with Baskonia looking to secure a playoff spot and Maccabi in need of a victory to keep their season alive.
“We are playing for our playoff lives. I think we are up for the challenge. I am looking forward to seeing how we respond to this game,” Norris wrote on his blog on the official EuroLeague website.
“We beat Baskonia back in Round 2, but that was so long ago. They are a different team now. They are obviously playing a lot better. They are probably the hottest team in the EuroLeague right now. The last five or six games, they've been playing really well. But none of that will matter on Thursday. What matters is that we are playing for our playoff lives.
“We have to do everything we can to walk out of there with a win. That’s our focus. I am sure we are going to look at some things from the first game we played against Baskonia, but they are playing different now, they are under new leadership now, they are a totally different team than when we played them earlier.
“Baskonia plays very well at home. Defensively they are pretty good. They have a lot of size. They play well together. We are going to have to deal with their size and how well they play and shoot the ball at home. They have a strong inside game with a dominant four-man, Toko Shengelia; he’s been a force all year in the EuroLeague. They have some good pieces. They have good guard play with Granger, Beaubois and Huertas. It's going to be a challenge and I'm looking forward to it.
“We’ve got to be aggressive. I tell our younger guys, we’ve got to play to our strengths and be aggressive. Whatever we do, we have to do it hard. My approach when I am in a do-or-die situation is to compete my hardest. At the end of the day, the only thing you can control is how hard you play.
“You can't control if the ball is going to go in or not, if you are going to have a great shooting night or not, you can't control the atmosphere in a road game, so you have to be focused and you have to be aggressive and you have to stay together. Those are the key things. If my team is aware of those things, we have a chance.”