Maccabi Tel Aviv’s Brian Randle.
(photo credit: ADI AVISHAI)
Maccabi Tel Aviv won’t quickly forget November 2, 2014.
It was 11 weeks ago that the yellow-and-blue dropped to its heaviest ever defeat to an Israeli club, suffering a 93-63 thrashing at the hands of Hapoel Jerusalem.
Hapoel was in the midst of a club record 9-0 start to the season, while Maccabi went on to suffer a shock Euroleague defeat to Cedevita Zagreb and lose at home by a record 20 points to Hapoel Tel Aviv.
However, Maccabi has since won nine consecutive league contests by an average 15.2 points, only really facing any sort of challenge in its triumph over Hapoel Eilat.
Jerusalem, on the other hand, went on to completely lose its way.
Hapoel failed to make it past the Eurocup regular season, finishing with a humbling 2-8 record, and suffered five straight BSL defeats before beating Hapoel Gilboa/Galil last week.
With Derwin Kitchen and Bar Timor both injured, Jerusalem brought in Tywain McKee and the American guard impressed on his debut against Gilboa, finishing with 14 points and five rebounds.
However, far more important to Jerusalem’s hopes of recording an upset on Sunday will be the play of Donta Smith.
The forward was superb with 24 points, eight rebounds and five assists in the historic win over Maccabi, but has seemed to be lacking motivation in most of the team’s games since, scoring in double figures in only three of the past 10 BSL contests.
Week 16 action got underway on Saturday night when Hapoel Tel Aviv improved to 10-6 with its third consecutive win, an 89-74 triumph at Gilboa. Tel Aviv led by a mere three points (69-66) before scoring 20 of the final 28 points. Yancy Gates had 27 points and 10 rebounds for the winners, while Durand Scott contributed 25 points and nine boards.
Oded Brandwein had 19 points for Gilboa, which fell to 5-11 with its fourth straight loss.
On Sunday, Hapoel Holon (9-6) will hope to extend its winning streak to four games when it visits Maccabi Rishon Lezion (9-6), which has lost two straight contests.
On Monday, Bnei Herzliya (5-10) hosts Ironi Nahariya (5-10), Maccabi Haifa (6-9) welcomes Ironi Ness Ziona (10-5) and Hapoel Eilat (6-9) visits Maccabi Ashdod (3-12).