Hapoel Jerusalem aims to move within a single win of securing the No. 1 seed in the BSL postseason when it visits Maccabi Haifa at Romema Arena on Sunday night.
A victory in Haifa coupled with a win over Maccabi Tel Aviv at Malha Arena next week will wrap up first place for Jerusalem with one regular season game to play.
Jerusalem leapfrogged Maccabi into first place with a momentous 28-point victory over the yellow-and-blue two weeks ago before beating Hapoel Tel Aviv 102-87 last week to improve to a 20-5 record with its 17th league victory from the past 19 games.
Jerusalem currently holds a one-game lead over second- place Maccabi and two victories in its next two contests will secure it home-court advantage in the best-of-five quarterfinal and semifinal series, as well as the benefit of hosting the second game of the two-legged final.
Jerusalem and Haifa will be meeting for the third time in a month, with both previous encounters being played at Malha. Haifa shocked Jerusalem 99-93 in the first clash, but Hapoel has won its three games since by an average 22.7 points, including an 85-60 conquest over the Greens.
Haifa (16-9) had lost three of four games before defeating Maccabi Tel Aviv 68-66 last week to take a one-game advantage over Hapoel Tel Aviv in the battle for third place in the standings.
Hapoel Tel Aviv (15-10) hosts Maccabi (19-6) in the derby at Hadar Yosef Arena on Monday.
Maccabi has lost two consecutive BSL contests after previously triumphing in 14 straight games, but returned to winning ways in the Euroleague on Thursday, edging Bayern Munich 94-92 to secure its progress to the quarterfinals from third place in Top 16 Group F.
Maccabi will complete its Top 16 games against CSKA Moscow at Nokia Arena on Thursday, but can already prepare to face Olimpia Milano in the last eight, with the Italians guaranteed to finish Group E in second place after winning seven straight games.
“Milano is an excellent team and will have home-court advantage, but we have a good match-up against them and I like our chances,” said Maccabi coach David Blatt.
Also Sunday, Bnei Herzliya (6-19) hosts last-place Maccabi Ashdod (5-20) in a crucial showdown in the battle against relegation.
Ashdod will climb out of last place, which leads to National League demotion, should it prevail on Sunday.
Elsewhere, Hapoel Gilboa/Galil (12-13) visits Hapoel Eilat (16-9) and Barak Netanya (7-18) hosts Maccabi Rishon Lezion (8-17).
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