Mac TA 88.
(photo credit: )
Maccabi Tel Aviv will host Hapoel Jerusalem for the second time in four days on Sunday night at Nokia Arena, but this time the game could resemble more of a scrimmage.
The two biggest rivals in Israeli basketball will highlight BSL Matchday 24. However, Maccabi will be more focused on Friday's Euroleague Final Four semifinal against Spain's Tau Vitoria.
Maccabi defeated Hapoel 83-71 on Thursday to effectively move two games ahead of Jerusalem for the league lead. While coach Pini Gershon's side only has one win more than Hapoel, it clinched the season tiebreaker, should Jerusalem catch Tel Aviv with the same record at the end of the season.
With the real task at hand being to win a third straight Euroleague crown, Gershon will certainly rest some of his top players, and those that play are not likely to see more than 25 minutes of action.
Nevertheless, whoever is on the court will be expected to give 100 percent against the reds, as Maccabi looks to increase its winning streak against Jerusalem to seven games. Three of those wins have come this season - two in the league and another in the State Cup final.
On the other hand, a loss to Jerusalem in this game won't bother Maccabi too much either. The last time these teams met on the eve of the Final Four was in May 2001, when Jerusalem won 83-78, but Maccabi went on to win its first European title under Gershon at the Suproleague Final Four in Paris one week later.
Also on Sunday, Hapoel Galil Elyon-Golan will look to remain hot when it travels to Ironi Ramat Gan; Elitzur Ashkelon hosts Hapoel Tel Aviv; Maccabi Rishon and Maccabi Givat Shmuel meet in Or Yehuda; and Ramat Hasharon welcomes Ironi Nahariya. Bnei Hasharon has a bye week.