Blatt plays down importance of Hap J’lem showdown

Maccabi Tel Aviv coach David Blatt is adamant that upcoming BSL encounter against Hapoel Jerusalem at Malha Arena is all but meaningless.

February 19, 2012 04:00
1 minute read.
Maccabi Tel Aviv coach David Blatt

Maccabi Tel Aviv coach David Blatt 390 (R). (photo credit: Reuters )


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Despite the long and heated rivalry between the clubs, Maccabi Tel Aviv coach David Blatt is adamant that Sunday night’s BSL encounter against Hapoel Jerusalem at Malha Arena is all but meaningless.

Maccabi will be entering the game in high spirits after lifting the first of four trophies it hopes to claim this season with an 82-69 victory over Maccabi Rishon Lezion in the State Cup final on Thursday.

Jerusalem, on the other hand, hasn’t played in almost two weeks since dropping to an 8-7 record with an 84-83 loss at Maccabi Ashdod.

Hapoel took advantage of the break to work on team spirit and prepare for the final stretch of the season, spending three days in Rhodes, Greece.

Jerusalem ended a 21-year drought at Nokia Arena in November, stunning Maccabi 78-64 for its first league win on the road against the yellow-and-blue since October 1, 1990.

However, avenging that defeat is no where near the top of Tel Aviv’s priority list, with Blatt insisting that there is little significance to any regular season game considering the fact that the championship is decided in a final four tournament.

“Our next important game is against Zalgiris Kaunas in the Euroleague,” Blatt said. “There is no meaning to the BSL game against Jerusalem. It is completely irrelevant compared to Thursday’s encounter.

“Our goal is to reach the Euroleague quarterfinals and everything else pales in comparison until we do that.”

Jerusalem has won just two of six games in all competitions since Sharon Drucker replaced Oded Katash as coach almost two months ago, but a victory on Sunday could help kick-start what has been a bitterly disappointing season so far.

“We are first and foremost focusing on our play,” Drucker said. “We need to show fighting spirit and determination and it is important that we maintain our composure throughout the game.”

Also Sunday, Rishon Lezion will look to bounce back from Thursday’s disappointment with a home win over Ironi Ashkelon, Hapoel Gilboa/Galil visits BC Habika’a and Maccabi Haifa hosts Maccabi Ashdod.

Hapoel Holon faces Barak Netanya on Monday.

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