What are your feelings after losing the Euroleague final against CSKA Moscow?
Lior Eliyahu: First of all, I’m proud for being in the Final Four and proud to be on a team like Maccabi. Of course everybody is sad, and especially unhappy after the game. But that’s natural. At the end you have to be proud to be there and for the way we have played since the beginning of the season.
You played a big role in the semis vs. Siena, but that has not been a common thing with Maccabi this season.
LE: To me it was a big surprise, when the coach came and called my name. It was a big surprise for me and even for my teammates. And you know, I had the chance to play and play well and helped my team win the game.
How do you feel about the lack of playing time with Maccabi? Are you upset about it?
LE: Not upset. Of course I have to work hard to get my minutes. But I know Maccabi is one of the biggest teams in Europe and it’s hard here. It never was easy to get minutes here and it’s still not.
How was the adjustment from playing a lot with your former team to not playing much with Maccabi?
LE: At the beginning it was not easy, but you have to know you’re just one part of the team and it’s not your decision. It’s the coach’s decision. I just have to give 100 percent to see if I can get my minutes.
How was your experience in the last summer league in Las Vegas?
LE: It was nice. I played seven games with the team and had practice with Houston for two weeks before that. And it was a good experience. Now let’s see what happens next year!
What did you learn from that experience with the Rockets?
LE: First of all, it’s just getting a taste of the NBA level. Of course it was not easy, but I got the chance to experience it and I’m waiting for the next time.
Are you going to play there again this summer?
LE: I don’t know yet. We have spoken a little bit about it, but we will see later.
Being the first Israeli player in the NBA… That would be huge in your country, I guess.
LE: Of course. Everybody is waiting. I just want to be there. It doesn’t matter if I’m the first or the second. Of course it would be more special to be the first, but the most important thing is to be there.
Who do you think has the best chance of being the first one? Halperin, Casspi, yourself…
LE: It could be anybody. Cannot say someone in special. Of course, Halperin has already been in the draft… Casspi is going to be there this summer. And then you have me. Maybe it will be the three of us.
You think you have a good shot at getting a contract this summer?
LE: I don’t know. I always say when it comes to the NBA that it’s about being in the right place at the right time. I’m ready for that. I’ve already played at the Euroleague level, I have played one summer league… I think I’m ready for that. I just have to wait for the right time.
How is your current situation with the Israeli army?
LE: I have finished. The rule in Israel is that you have to be in the army between 18 and 21. But I’m already done with that. I finished like one and a half years ago.
Does it bother you that you have to go through that?
LE: They help us in the army. They already know we work hard and that we are important for the team and for the coountry. So they help us a lot in the army. We don’t fight!