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