The return from injury of guard Yogev Ohayon (left) has given Maccabi Tel Aviv a timely boost..
(photo credit: UDI ZITIAT)
Maccabi Tel Aviv has already lost a club record 11 BSL regular season games this season. Nevertheless, it remains just one game back of first place.
After suffering five straight league defeats, another negative club record, Maccabi finally returned to winning ways last Wednesday, beating the sorry Maccabi Kiryat Gat 84-65.
Maccabi, which has an 18-11 record and is one game back of leaders Hapoel Eilat and Hapoel Holon with four games to play, hosts Ironi Nahariya at Yad Eliyahu Arena on Wednesday and can put some pressure on the leaders who don’t play until Thursday.
Eilat, which has won 13 of its past 15 games, including nine straight at home, hosts Hapoel Jerusalem, while Holon welcomes the already relegated Kiryat Gat.
The yellow-and-blue needs a win on Wednesday to not only boost its hopes in the fight for the No. 1 seed, but to also keep it on track to finish in the top four and claim home-court advantage in the playoff quarterfinals.
The top eight in the standings will advance to the best-of-five quarterfinals, the winners of which will progress to the Final Four.
The season-ending tournament will be played either in Tel Aviv’s Yad Eliyahu Arena or the Jerusalem Arena, with the team to finish the regular season in first place to pick the host venue.
Maccabi Tel Aviv is in danger of being leapfrogged by Hapoel Jerusalem and Bnei Herzliya, who both trail Maccabi by two games but own tiebreakers against the yellowand- blue, meaning they will finish ahead of Tel Aviv if they end the regular season with the same record.
Herzliya (16-13) hosts Maccabi Haifa (15-14) on Wednesday.
Herzliya has lost three of four games since defeating Maccabi Tel Aviv and will have to manage without star Israeli forward Karam Mashour for at least the next three weeks after he suffered a shoulder injury in last Thursday’s loss in Jerusalem.
Haifa is tied with Nahariya and Maccabi Rishon Lezion at 15-14 for the final three playoff berths, with Hapoel Tel Aviv (13-16) two games back.
Rishon visits Maccabi Ashdod (12-17) on Wednesday, looking to extend its season-best winning streak to five games.
On Friday, Roei Hagay guides Hapoel Tel Aviv for the first time when it hosts Hapoel Gilboa/Galil (12-17). Hagay replaced Rami Hadar, who resigned after less than four months at the helm.