Maccabi TA 298.88.
(photo credit: AP)
Maccabi Tel Aviv and Hapoel Jerusalem will be hot favorites when the State Cup semifinals are played at Nokia Arena in Tel Aviv on Monday night.
Hapoel is expected to defeat a tough Hapoel Holon, especially with the likely return of Jamie Arnold to the starting line-up.
Maccabi, however, will have to have its wits about it when it plays Hapoel Afula/Gilboa in the first game of a double header, after a shock defeat to Bnei Hasharon at the semifinal stage last year.
The perennial Israeli champion was replaced by Dan Shamir's Hapoel Jerusalem as Cup holder in 2007 and will be itching to reach Thursday's final.
The Yellows had a difficult start to the season, but have been in a rich vein of form since Tzvika Sherf took charge as coach, winning every game after Oded Katash's resignation at the start of January.
"We want to bring the cup back home," Sherf said on Sunday. "For us this is the week of the cup, as we have a break from the league and the Euroleague. Clearly we have been made favorites but we will need to prove this on the court."
The coach said he has been concentrating his efforts on learning everything he can about the Afula/Gilboa team and has watched a number of games on video over the last few days.
Hapoel Jerusalem coach Shamir appeared equally determined ahead of Monday's clash with Holon.
"We will try and play the basketball we have played in the last two weeks," he said, referring to the impressive league and ULEB Cup performances the team from the capital has put in.
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