Hapoel Jerusalem forward Tony Gaffney (left) and guard Yotam Halperin (right).
(photo credit: DANNY MARON)
Pressure mounting as Jerusalem hosts Nahariya
After being knocked out of the Eurocup last week, and with its State Cup campaign already coming to an end in the round of 16 last month, Hapoel Jerusalem has got just one title left to play for.
Jerusalem sits in first place in the BSL standings with a 13-4 record, one game ahead of Maccabi Tel Aviv. But after losing to Maccabi Haifa last week, it will find itself in crisis mode should it fall at the hands of Ironi Nahariya at the Jerusalem Arena on Sunday.
Jerusalem has suffered five defeats in its past six games over all competitions, with the loss to Haifa being its first at home in BSL action this season. Danny Franco’s team followed that up with a defeat to Strasbourg on Wednesday to fall to 0-4 in the Eurocup Last 32 and faces a Nahariya team which beat it earlier this season.
Nahariya defeated Hapoel 72-67 at Ein Sara after outscoring the defending champion 27-15 in the final quarter and is coming to Jerusalem on a three-game winning streak.
“The season is long and we will have more defeats and victories,” said Jerusalem guard Yotam Halperin. “If we can arrive at the end of the season the same way we did last year we will be fine.”
Maccabi Tel Aviv can move tied with Jerusalem should the latter lose, but the yellow-and-blue faces an even tougher task against Maccabi Rishon Lezion at Yad Eliyahu Arena on Sunday.
Tel Aviv has lost three of its past four games over all competitions, twice falling at the hands of Unics Kazan to drop to 2-2 in the Eurocup Last 32, while suffering a BSL defeat at Maccabi Ashdod before beating Ironi Ness Ziona last week.
Rishon, which advanced to the round of 16 in the Europe Cup last week, snapped a four-game losing streak in the BSL last Sunday, improving to 10-7 with a win over Hapoel Holon.
Holon (5-13) surprised Maccabi Haifa (11-7) on Saturday night, claiming an 85-77 victory. Will Clyburn had 21 points for Holon, which won for just the second time in 10 games. Alex Chubrevich finished with 20 points for Haifa, which had won six of its previous seven contests.Figure skater Bychenko claims historic medal
Alexei Bychenko became the first Israeli to claim a medal at the European Figure Skating Championships on Thursday night, finishing in second place in Bratislava, Slovakia.
The 27-year-old registered a result of 158.47 points in the free program on Thursday, finishing with 242.56 points overall to clinch a silver medal. Reigning world champion Javier Fernandez of Spain won his fourth consecutive European title with a result of 302.77 points.
Bychenko was fourth in last year’s Europeans and ended the world figure skating championships in Shanghai, China in 17th place in 2015. He also represented Israel at the 2014 Sochi Olympics, finishing in 21st place.
Bychenko booked his place at the world championships in Boston in two months time with Thursday’s triumph, finishing ahead of 17-year-old Israeli Daniel Samohin, who was seventh overall with a result of 232.08 points.