Pride on the line for Maccabi ahead of Tel Aviv derby

Maccabi Tel Aviv hosts Hapoel Tel Aviv in the final derby of the BSL regular season on Sunday night.

May 8, 2016 01:06
2 minute read.
Hapoel Tel Aviv guard Nate Robinson (right) drives past Ironi Nahariya's Michael Umeh (left)

Hapoel Tel Aviv guard Nate Robinson (right) drives past Ironi Nahariya's Michael Umeh (left). (photo credit: ERAN LUF)


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Maccabi Tel Aviv hosts Hapoel Tel Aviv in the final derby of the BSL regular season on Sunday night. The showdown between the bitter arch rivals at Yad Eliyahu Arena could, however, also be a preview of an upcoming playoff series between the two. Hapoel officially secured its place in the quarterfinals last week and will play Maccabi in a best-offive series should it finish the campaign in seventh place.

Hapoel (14-17) enters Sunday in eighth place, one game back of Bnei Herzliya and Maccabi Rishon Lezion, with two regular season games to play.

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Maccabi (22-9), which will be the No. 2 seed in the playoffs, has only pride to play for on Sunday, but it will be desperate for a win after suffering a humbling 16-point loss at home in the last derby two months ago. Hapoel entered that contest just one game above the bottom of the BSL standings after losing three of its previous four encounters. However, it outplayed a listless Maccabi that night and effectively secured its place in the post-season by winning three straight games before last week’s dramatic 93-92 loss to Hapoel Jerusalem. Hapoel led by as many 21 points, but an E.J.

Rowland three-pointer with 2.7 seconds to play gave the defending champion the victory on the road. Tel Aviv was without Nate Robinson last week, with the threetime NBA dunk champion to return for the derby after serving a one-game suspension.

Maccabi edged Hapoel Eilat 88-85 on the road last Tuesday for its sixth win in the past seven games and is aiming to continue and gather momentum ahead of the playoffs. Gal Mekel scored a season-high 29 points for Maccabi, which once more had to manage without the injured Devin Smith, who has played in only 19 of the team’s 31 BSL games so far this season due to a nagging knee injury.

Also Sunday, Maccabi Haifa (18-13) can wrap up third place with a win over Hapoel Eilat (16-15) while Ironi Nahariya (17-14) and Maccabi Rishon Lezion (15- 16) will also be battling for seeding in their meeting in Rishon.

On Monday, the fight against relegation could be decided, with Maccabi Kiryat Gat (10-21) to be officially demoted should it lose at Bnei Herzliya (15-16) while Ironi Ness Ziona (10-21) beats Maccabi Ashdod (12- 19). Hapoel Holon (12-19) can secure its survival, but in order to do so regardless of other results it will have to defeat leader Hapoel Jerusalem (25-6), which has won 10 consecutive games.

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