Haifa to try to end Hap TA’s dream run

By
January 8, 2011 23:47

"We are playing against a team which spends on one player more than we do on our entire roster,” said Hapoel coach Sharon Avrahami.

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HAPOEL TEL AVIV swingman Matan Naor will be key to

Matan Naor 311. (photo credit: Adi Avishai)

National League leader Hapoel Tel Aviv will look to extend its unbeaten season and register its second straight State Cup upset when it hosts Maccabi Haifa in a quarterfinal showdown at Hadar Yosef Arena on Sunday evening.

Tel Aviv holds a 13-0 record in Israel’s second basketball division, winning its games by an average of 17.2 points. The fan-owned club stunned BSL side Hapoel Holon in the last 16 of the cup, claiming a 93-85 victory despite only having two foreigners on its roster due to National League regulations.

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“We are playing against a team which spends on one player more than we do on our entire roster,” said Hapoel coach Sharon Avrahami ahead of the game, which sold out within two hours. “We don’t fear any team and we believe we can win this game.”

After losing six straight BSL games, Haifa replaced coach Elad Hasin with his assistant Ami Nawi. The team won its first league game under its new coach, but was back to losing ways against Ironi Ashkelon on Thursday, and Nawi knows another defeat could see the team spiral into another crisis.

“We need to learn from our mistakes in the end of the game against Ashkelon,” said Nawi, whose playing career is best remembered for his time at Hapoel. “Tel Aviv has the size and the lineup of a BSL side and their fans give them unbelievable energy.”

In Sunday’s other quarterfinals, Maccabi Tel Aviv will be expected to advance to the last four with ease when it hosts Ironi Ashkelon, with Hapoel Jerusalem also a firm favorite in its game against Barak Netanya at Malha Arena.

The most evenly balanced game on paper will take place in Ashdod, where the local Maccabi team hosts Hapoel Gilboa/Galil.


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