(photo credit: DOR KEDMI)
After a dejecting week which saw its European hopes officially extinguished and its perfect start to the BSL season come to a surprise ending, Hapoel Jerusalem aims to get back on track when it hosts Ironi Nahariya on Sunday.
Jerusalem dropped to its first BSL defeat in 2014/15 last Sunday, losing 87-85 to Hapoel Eilat after beginning the campaign with a club record nine straight wins.
Jerusalem gifted the southerners the win, with Yotam Halperin’s in-bounds pass towards Donta Smith with 10 seconds remaining being picked off by Brian Asbury, who then laid in the winning basket at the other end with one second to play.
Three days later, Hapoel lost any chance of advancing to the Eurocup Last 32. Jerusalem was beaten 112-110 in double overtime by CSU Ploiesti to fall to 2-7 in the regular season.
Nevertheless, coach Danny Franco insisted that the club still believes it can reach the Euroleague and that patience is required.
“This club sets itself goals and we have failed to achieve some of them,” he said.
“We are in a rebuilding process and we need to learn from this experience so it doesn’t happen to us again.”
Jerusalem has an ideal opportunity to bounce back on Sunday when it faces the 2-9 Ironi Nahariya. The newly promoted side has so far struggled in the top flight, with six of its nine defeats coming by double digits, including a 99-78 loss to Jerusalem in their season opener.
Also Sunday, Eilat (5-6) will look to build on its upset of Jerusalem and record its fourth straight win when it visits Hapoel Tel Aviv (6-5). Eilat’s season turned on its head two weeks ago. Dan Shamir’s side seemed to be heading to its seventh defeat in eight games, trailing Maccabi Haifa by eight points (78-70) with 40 seconds remaining.
However, a remarkable comeback capped by a Khalif Wyatt buzzer-beating three-pointer gave Eilat a 79-78 win and the team hasn’t looked back since.
New signings Adrian Uter and Brian Asbury have settled at the club, with Uter to come up against his former team on Sunday.
Hapoel Tel Aviv is looking to return to winning ways after having its threegame winning streak snapped by Hapoel Holon last week.
Also Sunday, Holon (6-4) visits Hapoel Gilboa/Galil (4-7) and Maccabi Ashdod (2-9) hosts Maccabi Haifa (4-7).
On Monday, Maccabi Tel Aviv (9-2) hosts Ironi Ness Ziona (7-4) and Maccabi Rishon Lezion (7-4) goes to Bnei Herzliya (4-7).