(photo credit: BSL)
Hapoel Jerusalem will be looking to end a 20-year drought when it visits Maccabi
Tel Aviv at the Nokia Arena on Sunday night.
On October 1, 1990,
Jerusalem handed Maccabi its heaviest home defeat ever in local league play,
thrashing the yellow-and-blue 89-66.
However, in the two decades since,
Hapoel has lost each and every league encounter it has played against Tel Aviv
at Yad Eliyahu, a streak it will be desperate to end on Sunday.
Maccabi is fun and challenging so we want to enjoy it,” Hapoel coach and Maccabi
legend Oded Katash said. “We are a good enough team to play our style of
basketball against any opponent.”
Hapoel, which has defeated Maccabi at
Nokia in the State Cup final three times since its last league win in Tel Aviv,
will hope to become the first Israeli team to find a way to slow down massive
center Sofoklis Schortsanitis.
In his first two games in the BSL, Sofo
has scored a combined 40 points in 33 minutes, and he was in unstoppable form in
Maccabi’s 86-70 Euroleague victory over Zalgiris Kaunas on Thursday, scoring 24
points in 22 minutes.
“Clearly we have to pay special attention to Sofo,”
said Katash, who saw his side lose 87-77 to Maccabi when the teams last met in
the League Cup final two weeks ago.
“He’s an immense force in our league.
I think the entire BSL is looking for ways to stop him and I’m not sure there is
a good answer to Sofo.”
Maccabi coach David Blatt will remember Hapoel’s
last league win at Nokia, scoring two points as a Jerusalem player in the famous
“We are expecting a very interesting game,” Blatt said on
Saturday. “Jerusalem is a good team and we respect it.
We are entering
this encounter on the back of a tough game on Thursday, but that is something we
need to get used to.”
Also Sunday, Barak Netanya hosts Maccabi Haifa and
Maccabi Rishon Lezion visits Maccabi Ashdod.
On Saturday, Bnei Hasharon
edged Hapoel Holon 80-79 at Herzliya to claim a third straight
The hosts seemed to be cruising after taking a 45-32 lead into
the break, but the visitors fought back in the second half and led 79-78 and had
the ball in their hands with 30 seconds remaining.
However, Holon would
turnover the ball at the crucial moment and Dan Grunfeld would clinch the win
for the hosts with accurate free-throws with 10 seconds to play.
Nailon and Shawn James scored 19 points each for Bnei Hasharon, with Jamie
Arnold leading five Holon players in double-figures, with 17 points.