(photo credit: Cajasol Sevilla website)
Just when Hapoel Jerusalem seems to be finally getting back on track, it faces
the daunting prospect of visiting Maccabi Tel Aviv at Nokia Arena in BSL action
on Sunday night.
Jerusalem rebounded from two straight BSL defeats with
successive league victories over the last couple of weeks, showing signs that it
might still be able to salvage something from this season after early exits from
the Eurocup and the State Cup.
Hapoel scored over 100 points in both of
its recent victories – over Barak Netanya and Ironi Ashkelon – but perhaps the
best news for coach Oded Katash was the play of new acquisition Jawad
The 28-year-old American forward played 25 games for the
Cleveland Cavaliers before being waived by the NBA franchise in December and
scored 23 points in 20 minutes in his debut for Jerusalem last week.
addition of Williams gives Hapoel a big boost in the absence of the injured
Brian Randle and Uri Kukia, and even though his expectations for the Maccabi
game may be tampered, Katash is hopeful that his new big man will play an
important role for the team later on this season.
“I like Jawad’s peace
of mind, and he gives us an option to play with more forwards,” Katash
“We are still considering adding another player, but we will see
how Randle progresses because he is doing much better than we
Maccabi will be looking to bounce back from Thursday’s 82- 69
Euroleague defeat at Lottomatica Roma.
Tel Aviv had nothing to play for
in Italy after already guaranteeing itself second place in Group F last week,
but coach David Blatt was still disappointed with his team’s
“We entered this game after a very tough week,” said Blatt,
whose team never really showed up, being outscored 18-6 in the third period
after the first half ended in a 42-42 tie. “We were very tired and turned the
ball over 21 times, many of them needlessly.
There is no excuse for our
Fortunately it wasn’t an important game.”
Euroleague encounter will be Game 1 of the best-of-five quarterfinal series
against Caja Laboral Vitoria, which defeated Lietuvos Rytas Vilnius 77- 68 to
finish top of Group E.
“We played Vitoria twice in the regular season and
both games were tough,” said Blatt, whose team lost to Caja in Spain, but beat
Dusko Ivanovic’s men at Nokia Arena. “Vitoria is a quality team with a lot of
They will be very difficult to beat, but we know it is
Games 1 and 2 of the series will be played in Vitoria on March
22 and 24, respectively, with the next two contests to be played in Tel Aviv the
following week (March 29 and 31) and a decisive Game 5, should it be needed, to
take place in Spain.
Also Sunday in the BSL, Bnei Hasharon visits
Ashkelon and Barak Netanya hosts Maccabi Rishon Lezion.
welcomes Maccabi Haifa on Monday.
On Saturday, Maccabi Ashdod snapped a
six-game BSL losing streak, beating Hapoel Gilboa/Galil 100-99 in
Gal Mekel gave Gilboa an 87-85 lead with 2.6 seconds to play in
regulation, but Jan Martin was on hand to tip in the tying basket at the
Josh Carter scored a clutch three-pointer to give Ashdod the lead
in the final minute of overtime and the hosts clinched the win after a Mekel
Josh Duncan had 28 points and 11 rebounds for Ashdod, with Tyler
Wilkerson scoring 19 points for Gilboa.
In other Israeli basketball news,
Elitzur Ramle advanced to the final of the women’s Eurocup on Thursday
Ramle lost 88-81 to Athinaikos on Thursday, but progressed to the
final thanks to its 74-59 win in Israel the previous week.
French club Arras in the final, looking to become the first Israeli women’s team
to win a European title.
The first leg will take place in Israel on March
17, with the decisive return leg to be played in France a week later.