Hapoel Jerusalem’s Yotam Halperin .
(photo credit: ODED KARNI/BSL)
With its Eurocup campaign deteriorating with every passing week, Hapoel Jerusalem looks for comfort in local action once more when it hosts Ironi Ness Ziona in the BSL on Sunday.
Jerusalem is off to a club-record 8-0 start to the season, winning its games by an average 20.5 points. Hapoel has the best offense and defense in the BSL to date, scoring 87.0 points per game while allowing its opponents just 66.5 points. Danny Franco’s team has netted 12 fewer points per contest in the Eurocup and is conceding 79.0 points, resulting in a 1-6 regular season record.
Jerusalem had to dig deep to beat Maccabi Rishon Lezion 72-64 last week and will face an in-form Ness Ziona side on Sunday.
After being the BSL’s dark horse last season in its first ever campaign in the top flight, Ness Ziona has got off to an excellent start yet again, improving to 6-2 last week with an 87-83 win over Ironi Nahariya.
Since losing to Maccabi Tel Aviv in their BSL opener, Ness Ziona has won six of seven games, only suffering a shock defeat at the lowly Hapoel Eilat.
Ness Ziona is led by forward Craig Smith, who will have added motivation on Sunday.
Smith, who is averaging 20.4 points and 7.6 rebounds per game, played for Jerusalem in the 2012/13 season, but was released after 19 BSL games following a clash with coach Sharon Drucker.
After being two of the league’s strongest sides last season, Hapoel Eilat and Maccabi Haifa aim to put their disappointing starts to 2014/15 behind them when they meet on Sunday.
Eilat fell to 2-6 last week after suffering an 88-66 defeat at Hapoel Holon, while Haifa dropped to 3-5 following an 80-65 loss to Maccabi Tel Aviv.
Also Sunday, Ironi Nahariya (1-7) hosts Hapoel Holon (5-3) and Maccabi Ashdod (1-7) visits Hapoel Gilboa/Galil (3-5).
On Monday, Maccabi Rishon Lezion (6-2) goes to Hapoel Tel Aviv (4-4) while Maccabi Tel Aviv (6-2) will be looking to rebound from Thursday’s painful Euroleague defeat to CSKA Moscow when it hosts Bnei Herzliya (3-5) at Nokia Arena. Maccabi lost all three of its games at Nokia in the month of November, to Hapoel Tel Aviv in the BSL and to Cedevita Zagreb and CSKA in the Euroleague, and will be desperate to get December off to a winning start at home.