A humbling 28-point defeat at Ironi Ness Ziona two months ago saw Hapoel Jerusalem drop to a .500 record in the BSL, raising concerns among fans that they were set to endure another dejecting season.
Those seem like distant memories now, with Jerusalem winning its seven league games since to seize sole possession of first place with a 10-3 record.
Hapoel outplayed Hapoel Eilat in an 82-65 victory on the road on Thursday night and will be confident of making it eight BSL wins in a row when it hosts Bnei Herzliya (5-8) at Malha Arena on Sunday.
Jerusalem fell to 0-2 following its 74-63 defeat to Herzliya at the start of the season in what was its second-worst offensive output of the campaign after the 89-61 loss to Ness Ziona.
However, Hapoel is averaging a league-best 87.8 points per game at home this season and will be a firm favorite against a Herzliya side which has lost three of its past four encounters.
“We played one of our best games of the season against Eilat,” said Jerusalem coach Brad Greenberg. “Our defensive play was excellent throughout all four quarters.
Herzliya was wonderful against us when we first met this season and we will have to play a lot better than we did then.”
Tzvika Sherf will look to continue his perfect start at Maccabi Rishon Lezion (4-8) when he takes his new team to Gan Ner on Sunday night to face Hapoel Gilboa/Galil (6-7).
Rishon beat Gilboa 84-77 in the State Cup quarterfinals in Sherf’s first game at the helm 10 days ago before defeating Ness Ziona last week in the veteran coach’s return to the BSL.
Ness Ziona’s scintillating start to the season has stalled in recent weeks, with Nadav Zilberstein’s team losing its past two league games to fall to 7-5.
Ness Ziona will be hoping to bounce back on Sunday when it hosts the struggling Hapoel Holon (6-7), which has lost three straight contests.
On Monday, Maccabi Haifa (8-5) hosts Maccabi Tel Aviv (8-4) at Romema Arena in a repeat of last season’s BSL final. Haifa has won two straight league games after losing three in a row, while the yellow-and-blue will be brimming with confidence after claiming an impressive 90-84 Euroleague road win at Galatasaray on Thursday for its ninth consecutive triumph in all competitions.
Also Monday, Hapoel Tel Aviv (8-4), which has won five straight league games and seven in a row in all competitions, welcomes Hapoel Eilat (7-6) and Maccabi Ashdod (2-11) visits Barak Netanya (5-8).