Rivals Hapoel J'lem and Hapoel TA face off at Malha
J'lem, TA battle relentlessly for questionable honor of trying to break Maccabi TA’s stranglehold over local hoops.
Jacob Pullen Photo: Adi Avishai
Hapoel Jerusalem and Hapoel Tel Aviv renew one of the fiercest rivalries in
Israeli basketball at Malha Arena on Sunday night.
Since the start of the
1990’s, Jerusalem and Tel Aviv battled relentlessly for the questionable honor
of trying to break Maccabi Tel Aviv’s stranglehold over local hoops.
both failed to topple Maccabi, with Jerusalem finishing as runner-up to the
yellow-and-blue six times between 1996 and 2007 and Hapoel Tel Aviv coming up
short in the playoff finals in five attempts over the past 20
Nevertheless, Jerusalem and Tel Aviv continue to see themselves as
Maccabi’s only real challengers on the local scene, and they will meet in the
league for the first time in six years on Sunday after the fan-owned Tel Aviv
finally returned to the top flight.
“Clearly this is going to be a tough
game,” said Hapoel Tel Aviv captain and former Jerusalem player Matan
“Malha is a very difficult arena to play in and Jerusalem is an
excellent team. We are the clear underdog, but we will do all we can to
Both Hapoel teams lost in the first weekend of the season, but
while Tel Aviv dropped to an overtime defeat at home against Bnei Herzliya,
Jerusalem gave Maccabi Tel Aviv a real run for its money before being edged at
While the defeat was disappointing, Jerusalem had every
reason to be encouraged by its overall performance against the yellow-andblue
and would have been a firm favorite against Tel Aviv even had the latter not
lost American Matt Bouldin to a broken foot in the first week of the
Elsewhere, Maccabi Haifa opens its BSL campaign when it hosts
Hapoel Gilboa/Galil at the renovated Romema Arena.
Haifa wasn’t in action
last week, with its game against Hapoel Holon being postponed to this Wednesday,
as it was in the US for a 10-day training camp during which it lost to the NBA’s
Golden State Warriors and Minnesota Timberwolves.
Also Sunday, Maccabi
Rishon Lezion hosts Hapoel Eilat in a game between two teams looking to improve
to 2-0, while Maccabi Ashdod visits Holon.
On Monday, Ironi Ashkelon
welcomes Maccabi Tel Aviv and Herzliya faces Barak Netanya.