J'lem, Haifa aim to end regular season on a high

Jerusalem’s 77-69 win at CSU Ploiesti of Romania last week saw it improve to a 5-4 record and secure a berth in the second group stage.

December 18, 2013 05:21
2 minute read.

Basketball generic 370. (photo credit: Thinkstock/Imagebank)

Hapoel Jerusalem and Maccabi Haifa may have already secured their progress to the Last 32 of the Eurocup, but they will still be desperate to end the regular season on a winning note and advance as No. 2 seeds on Wednesday night.

Jerusalem’s 77-69 win at CSU Ploiesti of Romania last week saw it improve to a 5-4 record and secure a berth in the second group stage.

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However, Brad Greenberg’s team’s final position in Group E will be decided in Wednesday’s encounter versus Karsiyaka Izmir (5-4) at Malha Arena, with the winner to qualify for the Last 32 from the runners-up position behind Khimki Moscow.

Karsiyaka edged Jerusalem 81-80 in Turkey last month, but has lost three of four Eurocup games since, winning so far just one of its four contests on the road.

Haifa (6-3) hosts Kalev Tallinn (2-7) at Romema Arena on Wednesday, confident of claiming the win it requires despite its recent struggles and injury problems.

Haifa, which will be without Moran Roth and Brian Randle on Wednesday, suffered a 95-76 defeat at Banvit Bandirma of Turkey last week and has also lost three of its last four BSL contests. Haifa will end Group G in second place behind Unics Kazan should it win, or even with a defeat should Banvit lose to VEF Riga.

Jerusalem and Haifa were scheduled to meet in the BSL on Sunday, but the showdown was postponed to Friday due to the stormy weather, gifting both teams a full week to train and rest ahead of Wednesday’s games.

“We are proud to be a part of the Eurocup family for the first time, and excited to be a part of the second round,” said Haifa coach Danny Franco.

“As we fight injuries, we are looking forward to the last game of the first stage and the challenges that lie ahead in the near future.” Haifa beat Tallinn 68-64 when the teams met last month, with the Estonians winning just their second group game last week, beating MZT Skopje 84-69.

“We expect a really intense game, since the last time we faced Tallinn they were really aggressive and it came down to the last minute,” said Haifa guard David Cubillan.

In other basketball news, Maccabi Ashdod sacked coach Nati Cohen on Tuesday, signing Eric Alfasi as his replacement.

Ashdod (2-9) is currently bottom of the BSL standings after losing nine of its past 10 games.

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