maccabi tel aviv yaniv green 248 88 ap.
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Sunday's BSL showdown between Maccabi Tel Aviv and Hapoel Jerusalem will be first and foremost about pride.
With the championship being decided in a Final Four format, it doesn't matter which team ends the regular season in first position.
However, after being humbled 91-77 by Hapoel Jerusalem when the teams first met this season at Malha Arena, Maccabi will be desperately hoping to settle the score with a big win on Sunday.
"I can't wait for the start of the game," Maccabi center D'or Fischer said. "Hapoel kicked our asses last time we met and this is payback time for us."
Backup center Yaniv Green was just as animated. "It's time we see which is the best team in the country. We're playing at home and we haven't forgotten what happened last time," Green said.
Jerusalem has lost just once in the BSL this season and enters Sunday's encounter on the back of a nine game winning streak.
Hapoel, which made the most of Maccabi's Euroleague road game in Barcelona and trained at the Nokia Arena in the lead up to Sunday's encounter, will be boosted by the return of Omar Sneed and Erez Markovitch from injury.
Timmy Bowers scored 30 points in the absence of the two big men to lead Hapoel to a victory against Ashkelon last week and is confident that the team has a real chance of getting the better of Maccabi for the third time in four meetings.
"I really think that we have a chance against Maccabi," Bowers said. "We will have to train hard and believe in ourselves if we're to win."
Hapoel guard Moran Rot, who was part of the Hapoel Holon team which beat Maccabi in the championship game at Nokia last season, remains wary of Tel Aviv.
"Maccabi has played well recently and is clearly the favorite," Rot said. "A lot will depend on Maccabi's mental state after the Barca game."
It's impossible to predict whether the 20-point thrashing in Barcelona will have a positive or negative effect on Maccabi, and assistant coach Sharon Drucker is obviously hoping for the best.
"Had we beaten Barcelona or even played slightly better we would have entered this game in a different mood, but you also learn from playing poorly," Drucker said.
On Saturday, Maccabi Haifa remained just behind Maccabi and Hapoel in the standings with a 75-68 victory over Maccabi Rishon Lezion.
Davon Jefferson led Haifa scoring 20 points, with Moshe Mizrahi and Doron Perkins adding 12 points each.
Demarco Johnson scored 16 points for Rishon, which lost for just the second time in five games under coach Ofer Berkowitz.
Also Sunday, Ironi Nahariya goes for its fourth straight league win at Ironi Ashkelon, Ironi Ramat Gan hosts Hapoel Holon and Ironi Kiryat Ata visits Maccabi Givat Shmuel.
On Monday, Bnei Hasharon hosts Hapoel Galil Elyon/ Gilboa.