Hapoel Tel Aviv's Demontez Stitt 370.
(photo credit: Adi Avishai)
Hapoel Tel Aviv hosts Maccabi Tel Aviv in BSL action on Sunday night in a game
the Red fans have been dreaming about since they began reconstructing the club
from scratch almost six years ago.
However, Sunday’s derby at Rishon
Lezion couldn’t have really come at a worse time for Hapoel, which is fighting
for its survival in the top flight after a promising start to its first BSL
campaign since 2005/06.
Hapoel won three of its first four BSL games, but
its meager budget and lack of depth have seen it struggle ever since, with the
Reds losing seven of their past nine games.
Hapoel enters the derby just
two games ahead of rock-bottom Ironi Ashkelon, with its offense only scoring a
league low 71.9 points per game.
It is no surprise that Maccabi is
averaging a league-best 86.2 points, with the yellow-and blue winning its past 15
Maccabi has also claimed 12 consecutive derbies since
losing 96-71 at Ussishkin Arena in the 2003/04 season, including the first derby
in more than six years at Nokia Arena in December, easily winning
Hapoel will be hosting a derby for the first time in nearly seven
years on Sunday, but Maccabi will be entering the encounter exuding confidence
after improving to 4-5 in Euroleague Top 16 Group F with Thursday’s dramatic 66-
62 win at Caja Laboral Vitoria.
Maccabi won for the third time in its
past four continental games to keep alive its hopes of reaching the Euroleague
quarterfinals and will want to waste as little energy as possible against Hapoel
ahead of Thursday’s crucial game at Fenerbahce Ulker in Turkey.
showed a lot of character in the win over Caja. Everyone gave their heart and
soul,” said Maccabi coach David Blatt. “I’m happy that we are still alive, but
matters aren’t going to get any easier from here out. Now we need to focus on
the derby and after that give our all in Istanbul.”
will see Maccabi’s Guy Pnini come up against Hapoel’s Jonathan Skjoldebrand for
the first time since he called him a Nazi during the previous
Pnini was stripped of the Maccabi captaincy, fined NIS 100,000 and
suspended for four BSL games following the incident. Also Sunday, Hapoel Eilat
visits Barak Netanya, Bnei Herzliya hosts Maccabi Haifa and Ashkelon welcomes
Hapoel Jerusalem hosts Maccabi Rishon Lezion on
On Saturday, Maccabi Ashdod beat Hapoel Gilboa/Galil 86-84,
improving to 8-11.
Gilboa (7-12) had a one-point edge (59-58) entering
the fourth frame, but Ashdod was the more composed team in the final minutes and
snapped its two-game losing skid.
Mardy Collins led five Ashdod players
in double figures with 18 points, while Rakim Sanders scored while Rakim Sanders scored 22 points for Gilboa.