Maccabi Ashdod forward Gerald Lee.
(photo credit: UDI ZITIAT)
Maccabi Tel Aviv is hoping its longest stretch without a competitive game since the start of the season will help it get back on track when it hosts Hapoel Jerusalem in BSL action at Yad Eliyahu Arena on Sunday night.
Maccabi hasn’t played since losing to Hapoel Gilboa/Galil 81-79 at Yad Eliyahu on Saturday, April 14. Tel Aviv has gone a week without a game on a few occasions this season, but never longer. The setback against Gilboa was the yellowand- blue’s 11th defeat from the past 15 games over all competitions, including four losses from its last seven BSL contests.
“To fight is not enough,” said Maccabi coach Neven Spahija, who has come under increased pressure over recent weeks with his team falling to a 17-7 record in BSL action. “You have to do something extra. We are working hard but we are missing perimeter players and that is hurting our rotation.”
Jerusalem is just two games back of the yellow-and-blue, improving to 15-9 last week with its fourth win from five encounters, beating Hapoel Holon 82-75. Jerusalem lost to Tel Aviv in their first two regular season clashes of the campaign, meaning the yellow- and-blue will maintain its hold on the tiebreaker even should it lose on Sunday. But with a Jerusalem victory to move the reigning champion to within just a single game of Maccabi, the outcome on Sunday could end up proving to be decisive in the battle for playoff seeding.
Elsewhere Sunday, Hapoel Tel Aviv (13-12) visits Maccabi Haifa (7-17), and Ironi Ness Ziona (10-15) hosts Ironi Nahariya (8-16).
Maccabi Ashdod (17-9) continued its sensational form with a club record eighth consecutive victory on Saturday, beating the slumping Hapoel Holon (17-8) on the road.
Gerald Lee led the dominant Ashdod with 20 points. Ashdod’s last loss came almost two months ago, at Holon, with coach Brad Greenberg’s team not allowing more than 80 points during its winning streak.
“We played a hard and determined defense,” said Greenberg, whose team has won 14 of its past 16 games. “As a coach you always want more and are fearful that good stuff is going to end at some point, but our body of work now throughout 14 of 16 games is pretty strong and I just hope we can keep it going.”
TaShawn Thomas had 19 points for Holon, which suffered its fourth loss in five games and second in a row since the departure of Glen Rice Jr.
Also Saturday, Hapoel Gilboa/ Galil (13-12) beat Maccabi Rishon Lezion (10-16) 78-76.