After more than six years, the Tel Aviv derby is back.
Maccabi Tel Aviv
hosts Hapoel Tel Aviv in BSL action at Nokia Arena on Sunday night in a showdown
that was the highlight of the Israeli basketball season for over 50 years, but
has been desperately missing from the local landscape in recent
Maccabi returned to winning ways in the Euroleague on Thursday,
improving to 6-2 with a 78-73 victory over Chalon-Sor-Saone and moved back atop
of Group B on Friday after Unicaja Malaga lost 91-72 at Montepaschi
Despite being humbled by Maccabi Rishon Lezion last month for what
was its first defeat to an Israeli team since January, the yellow-and-blue has
basically been its usual dominating self in the BSL, leading the standings with
a 6- 1 record and winning its games by an average 21.6 points.
many doubts regarding Hapoel’s chances of success in the BSL after it finally
gained promotion from the National League last season. But despite playing with
an almost identical roster to the one they had last year, the Reds have become a
force to be reckoned with.
Hapoel fell to 4-3 following a 68-64 loss to
Hapoel Eilat last week, but coach Erez Edelstein has so far worked magic with
the weapons at his disposal. He will have a particularly difficult job on Sunday
with captain Matan Naor, who is the only player on either roster to have
previously experienced a derby, to miss the game due to a thigh
“It kills me not to play in this game but I trust my teammates,”
Naor said. “Everyone understands how important this game is to the fans and the
club and we will fight for them.”
Maccabi coach David Blatt has no injury
concerns ahead of Sunday’s showdown and is hoping that the heated rivalry will
not result in verbal or physical violence between both sets of
“There aren’t many similarities between a Euroleague and a
BSL game, but we are certainly excited ahead of the derby.
“This is a
special game,” Blatt said after Thursday’s win over Chalon.
“We have to
do everything to denounce any Holocaust related songs. This is our country,
these kinds of things can’t happen. If we can’t respect each other then what are
we here for? “We would have been better off staying in the Diaspora. The game
should be exciting and interesting, but should not include violence or
Also Sunday, Hapoel Jerusalem continues its search for consistency
when it visits Maccabi Rishon Lezion in a tricky road tie.
to 3-4 last week, seeing its three-game winning streak snapped with a 91-85 loss
to Ironi Ashkelon. Sharon Drucker’s team is also on the brink of elimination
from the Eurocup after dropping to 1-3 in Group A with a midweek defeat at
Elsewhere, Hapoel Holon hosts Ashkelon and Maccabi
Ashdod visits Hapoel Gilboa/Galil.
On Monday, Hapoel Eilat welcomes Barak
Netanya and Bnei Herzliya visits Maccabi Haifa.