Maccabi Tel Aviv guard Gal Mekel.
(photo credit: ADI AVISHAI)
Maccabi Tel Aviv will have to get used to life without Devin Smith once more when it hosts Ironi Nahariya in the BSL on Sunday night, with the forward to undergo arthroscopic surgery on his knee later this week and miss the next month of action.
Smith scored 14 points, including seven in the closing minutes, in the State Cup final against Maccabi Ashdod on Thursday to ensure Maccabi won the competition for a seventh straight year.
He missed the cup semifinal win over Ironi Ness Ziona on Monday and the record 35-point drubbing at the hands of Maccabi Haifa in the BSL the previous week due to his gimpy knee. However, he saved the yellow-and-blue in the cup final after it saw a 22-point lead shrink to a mere two points midway through the fourth quarter.
“I played on one leg and didn’t feel great,” said Smith.
“I thank God for allowing me to play in the final. This is very satisfying because we have been through tough times, but we showed our character.”
Maccabi fell to 13-6 in the BSL with the painful defeat to Haifa and will be expecting a tough test on Sunday after losing 76-70 to Nahariya earlier this season. Nahariya can close within a single game of Maccabi with a win after triumphing in four of its previous five contests to improve to 11-8.
Reigning BSL champion Hapoel Jerusalem wasn’t part of last week’s cup festival after being knocked out by Haifa in the round of 16, giving the team plenty of time to work on its game in training ahead of Sunday’s clash with Hapoel Tel Aviv.
Jerusalem leads the league standings with a 14-5 record, but the pressure has been building at the club over recent weeks following six defeats from its past seven games over all competitions.
Jerusalem lost 92-83 in overtime at Hapoel Eilat last Sunday, with the defeat coming on the back of the humiliating 108-61 Eurocup thrashing at Gran Canaria, which saw the team end Group H at 0-6.
On Saturday, Hapoel Holon claimed an important win in the battle against relegation, beating Eilat 87-80 for its first road victory of the season to improve to 6-14.
Will Clyburn had 32 points for the winners, with Isaac Rosefelt finishing with 23 points and 15 rebounds. Alade Aminu had 18 points and 18 boards for Eilat (9-11).
On Monday, Haifa (12-7) visits Ironi Ness Ziona (7-12) and Bnei Herzliya (10-9) hosts Maccabi Kiryat Gat (6-13). Ashdod (9-10) returns to action when it hosts Maccabi Rishon Lezion (10-9) on Wednesday.
Rishon visits Ventspils of Latvia in Game 1 of their best-ofthree Europe Cup round of 16 series on Sunday.