Hapoel Jerusalem coach Fotis Katsikaris will be desperate to get life in the BSL off to a winning start when his team visits Ironi Nahariya tonight..
(photo credit: AVI AVISHAI)
Hapoel Jerusalem can turn its disappointing preseason results into a distant memory when it visits Ironi Nahairya in the opening game of the new BSL season on Sunday night.
The reigning Israeli champion will be looking to avenge its surprise 87-84 loss to Nahariya in the quarterfinals of the preseason Winner Cup six days ago. It was Hapoel’s fourth loss in six preseason games, with Jerusalem preparing for 2017/18 with a training camp in Spain, choosing to play five quality opponents over nine days rather than trying to build confidence with wins over inferior rivals.
After lifting the Winner Cup last season, Jerusalem was hoping to make another deep run in the preseason tournament last week. But instead, new coach Greek Fotis Katsikaris was given plenty to mull over after seeing his side squander a double- digit lead and fall to Nahariya.
Jerusalem has maintained the core of last season’s roster, bringing back seven players. Amar’e Stoudemire is among the players who left, but Hapoel signed four new players, Austin Daye, Yogev Ohayon, Alen Omic and most recently Stratos Perperoglou.
The Greek forward was brought in to add depth due to Tarence Kinsey’s lingering back injury.
“I expected a more balanced performance,” admitted Katsikaris, whose team visits Lietkabelis Panevezys in Lithuania in its first Eurocup game of the season on Wednesday. “We are still trying to find our chemistry, but the loss to Nahariya at least helped us realize where we stand. Everyone wants to beat us because we are the champion and we need to be ready to fight for every ball.”
Nahariya went all the way to the final of the Winner Cup where it lost to Maccabi Tel Aviv. Nahariya replaced almost its entire roster in the summer and made some promising signings in American Alex Young, Corey Webster of New Zealand and young Israeli Yiftach Ziv.
“We face a tough challenge against Jerusalem, but we proved in the Winner Cup that we can compete against the league’s top sides,” said coach Eric Alfasi, who is back for a third season in Nahariya.
Also Sunday, Bnei Herzliya hosts Ironi Ness Ziona and Hapoel Holon visits Hapoel Tel Aviv.
On Monday, Maccabi Tel Aviv goes to Hapoel Eilat and Hapoel Gilboa/ Galil hosts Maccabi Ashdod.