(photo credit: )
All eyes will be in Ashkelon on Sunday night as the local side aims to prove that last week's BSL opening night victory at Hapoel Jerusalem was no fluke. However that task will be a difficult one with defending two-time Euroleague champion Maccabi Tel Aviv the opponent.
Elitzur Ashkelon (1-0) played with heart and confidence in Malcha and walked away with a 74-72 decision. Ashkelon, which was one of the biggest surprises in the BSL last year, benefited from strong performances by center Brandon Kurtz (12 points, 6 assists), guards Brian Tolbert and Adrian Pledger (20 points apiece) and young forward Vlade Yermishin (6 points, 9 rebounds), plus big plays down the stretch by reserve guard Oded Sha'ashoua.
But Maccabi (1-0) is a much bigger mountain to climb. The perennial champs are coming off an 89-85 defeat at the hands of Belgian side Spirou Charleroi Thursday in the team's final tune-up for the Euroleague season, which begins this Thursday. That loss, combined with a poor defensive outing in last week's 110-103 BSL win over Maccabi Givat Shmuel, will no doubt bring a more-focused yellow-and-blue side to Ashkelon for this encounter.
Nikola Vujcic, who sat out the second half in Charleroi after hurting his finger, told reporters at the airport upon landing Friday that he is fine and will play.