A week after suffering its first home loss in the BSL since last October, Hapoel Jerusalem meets Maccabi Haifa at Malha Arena once more on Sunday night, hoping to reestablish a three-game lead over the Greens in the battle for the No. 2 seed in the playoffs.
Haifa beat Jerusalem 99-93 last week behind 36 points from guard Dagan Yavzuri, the most points scored by an Israeli player in the BSL since the 2000/01 season.
Hapoel had won its previous nine home games in the BSL since losing its season-opener to Maccabi Ashdod on October 13.
The defeat to Haifa was Hapoel’s fourth in its past five games in all competitions and saw the side fall a 17-5 record, one game behind league-leader Maccabi Tel Aviv.
However, Brad Greenberg’s men bounced back by advancing to the Eurocup quarterfinals for the first time since 2010 on Wednesday, beating Ulm of Germany 81-65 at Malha to overturn a two-point loss from the first leg.
Jerusalem finally rediscovered its form on defense after having allowed 93.5 points per game in its four previous defeats. The Reds limited Ulm to 50 percent (20-of-40) from two-point range and 6-of-21 from beyond the arc (28%), while also forcing 16 turnovers.
Haifa’s victory at Malha was its seventh from the past eight league contests and saw it move to 15-7. New signing Terrence Roderick should make his debut for the Greens on Sunday, giving coach Danny Franco much-needed depth ahead of the final stretch. The 25-year-old averaged 12.9 points, 4.3 rebounds and 4.1 assists in 17 BSL games for Hapoel Eilat before the club released him last month due to what it described as a series of disciplinary violations.
Jerusalem, Haifa, as well as both Maccabi and Hapoel Tel Aviv, have already all secured home-court advantage in the quarterfinal playoffs, with the league being split in two last week after all 12 teams completed their 22-game schedule.
The top four will play each other twice more ahead of the playoffs, starting from Sunday, with Maccabi to host Hapoel in the Tel Aviv derby on Monday.
The bottom eight sides will face one another once more for the four remaining playoff berths. The team in last place will be demoted to the National League.
Maccabi Ashdod (4-18) currently occupies the foot of the standings and is running out of time in its battle against relegation.
Ashdod visits Hapoel Gilboa/ Galil (9-13) on Sunday, while Maccabi Rishon Lezion (6-16) goes to Hapoel Holon (11- 11) and Bnei Herzliya (6-16) travels to Ironi Ness Ziona (12-10).
Also Sunday, Hapoel Eilat (13-9) welcomes Barak Netanya (7-15).
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