|Maccabi Tel Aviv's Malcolm Thomas 370.(Photo by: Adi Avishai)|
Hap J’lem, Maccabi TA ready for Malha showdown
By ALLON SINAI
Tel Aviv seeks victory against its arch-rival ahead of crucial Euroleague game versus Fenerbahce Ulker.
After suffering a heartbreaking home defeat to Caja Laboral Vitoria in
Euroleague action, Maccabi Tel Aviv will be desperate for a moral-boosting win
when it visits Hapoel Jerusalem in the BSL at Malha Arena on Sunday
Maccabi came back from 14 points down in the second half against
Caja, only to fall to 0-2 in the Top 16 after the Spaniards clinched a 71-70
victory nine seconds from the final buzzer.
The defeat left Tel Aviv in a
precarious position in Top 16 Group F and the yellow-and-blue could really use a
sweet victory against its arch-rival from Jerusalem ahead of Thursday’s crucial
Euroleague game versus Fenerbahce Ulker.
Maccabi comfortably leads the
BSL standings with a 10-1 record thanks to an eight-game winning streak and
hasn’t lost in Malha in four years.
Tel Aviv will welcome back Guy Pnini,
who has finished serving a four-game suspension for calling Hapoel Tel Aviv
player Jonathan Skjoldebrand a Nazi during the derby.
back above .500 last week with an 85-79 home win over Hapoel Eilat, improving to
Hapoel gave Maccabi a run for its money in the season opener before
losing 88-82 at Nokia Arena, the first of three straight losses for Jerusalem to
start the campaign.
It has won six of eight games since, but has
nevertheless struggled for consistency.
Even on a night when it dominated
a strong Eilat side, the team’s performance was overshadowed by an off-court
Veteran guard Meir Tapiro clashed with coach Sharon Drucker as
he was unhappy with his decision to bench him and whispered into his ear what he
thought of him on his way off the court.
Tapiro, who is averaging just
3.9 points and 3.4 assists in 17.9 minutes per game, admitted on Thursday that
he made a mistake by letting his frustration get the better of
“There is no tension between me and Drucker, we both have the same
goal of leading Jerusalem back to the top,” said the 37-year-old Tapiro, who
will not face disciplinary action after apologizing to the coach in front of the
rest of the roster.
Tapiro is looking forward to Sunday’s showdown with
"It is always exciting to face Maccabi at Malha,” he
“We need to focus on our own play and less on Maccabi’s.
have gelled since we last played them.”
Also Sunday, Ironi Ashkelon goes
for its sixth win in seven games when it hosts Hapoel Eilat, which has dropped
two straight games for its first losingstreak of the season.
guides Maccabi Rishon Lezion for the first time since replacing the sacked Effi
Birenboim when Rishon welcomes Hapoel Gilboa/Galil, while Hapoel Tel Aviv visits
On Monday, Hapoel Holon hosts Maccabi Haifa and Barak
Netanya goes to Maccabi Ashdod.