Hapoel Jerusalem enters Wednesday’s Eurocup Last 32 encounter against Banvit Bandirma at Malha Arena in a confident mood, while Maccabi Haifa visits Khimki Moscow as a massive underdog.

Both Israeli sides opened the Last 32 with victories last week, with Jerusalem beating Olimpija Ljubljana 69-66 in Slovenia and Haifa edging CEZ Nymburk 80-75 at Romema Arena.

Jerusalem also maintained its hold on first place in the BSL standings on Sunday, beating Maccabi Rishon Lezion for its ninth-straight league conquest.

Bandirma looks to be Hapoel’s main challenger for first place in Group K, beating Budivelnik Kiev 92-85 last week. Banvit played Haifa in regular season Group G, losing to the Greens in Israel and defeating them by 19 points in at home.

The Turkish club won only one of five road games in the regular season, but currently leads the strong local league with a 14-1 record.

“I’m optimistic ahead of the game with Banvit,” said Jerusalem coach Brad Greenberg.

“We have plenty of information on the team and I spoke to the Haifa coaching staff. We also had two full days to prepare for the game, which is significant as we will be facing an excellent team.”

Haifa registered its third win in its past four BSL games on Sunday – beating Bnei Herzliya at Romema – but will not be expecting much from its showdown with Khimki.

The Russians have won 10 consecutive Eurocup games since their shock defeat to Ploiesti of Romania in their regular season opener, defeating Montepaschi Siena 75-69 in Italy last week.

Khimki beat Hapoel Jerusalem both home and away in the regular season and Haifa coach Danny Franco recognizes the huge challenge his team faces on Wednesday.

“We are facing one of the best teams in Europe, but we are coming into this game with good momentum after our recent wins,” he said. “We are in a process of recovering from injuries and have made steady progress as a team.

“These kinds of games, against rivals from the top of Europe, will cause us to play at our best in the short-term, and in the long-term it will make us better as a team. We will come into this game looking to win.”

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