Israeli clubs face crucial continental clashes

Maccabi Tel Aviv has a pair of Euroleague contests, while Jerusalem needs help in Champions League.

OMRI CASSPI (7) and Maccabi Tel Aviv are aiming to push their Euroleague record above .500 with a pair of games this week, starting tonight at Fenerbahce. (photo credit: DOV HALICKMAN PHOTOGRAPHY)
OMRI CASSPI (7) and Maccabi Tel Aviv are aiming to push their Euroleague record above .500 with a pair of games this week, starting tonight at Fenerbahce.
Just as the Israel Basketball League resumes play after the lockdown, three Israeli teams will also be playing critical European matches this week as Maccabi Tel Aviv, Hapoel Jerusalem and Ironi Ness Ziona will all be in action.
Maccabi Tel Aviv will be playing a Euro league “Double Week” with a game at Fenerbahçe in Istanbul on Tuesday followed by a home encounter with another Istanbul squad in Anadolu EFES on Thursday night at Yad Eliyahu.
The yellow-and-blue enters the week with a 10-11 record as it is coming off of two wins in a row, over Baskonia and Real Madrid. With only 13 games left in the continental season, every match is crucial as Ioannis Sfairopoulos’s team looks to find a way into one of the top eight positions in the standings which would be good enough to get into the postseason.
“We are playing against a team that has six wins in a row, and they are in their best shape of the season” said Sfairopoulos. “They are playing the best basketball in the Euroleague and our mission is difficult, but we believe in ourselves and have a plan as to how to play this game, and we will fight to do the right things on the court.”
Meanwhile, Hapoel Jerusalem will look to advance to the Playoff Stage of the Basketball Champions League when it takes on Limoges in France on Tuesday evening.
The Reds, however, will need some help to join Hapoel Holon in the competition’s Round of 16. Dainius Adomaitis’s team not only needs to defeat Limoges but also has to hope that Turk Telekom can beat Igokea in Ankara. That won’t be an easy feat as Turk has already qualified for the next stage while Igokea needs a win to punch its ticket to the playoffs and just added high-volume scoring guard Steven Gray.
“This is a situation that we are not used to at Hapoel Jerusalem, but this is what it is,” said center Idan Zalmanson ahead of the game. “We are trying to not think about what will be in Turkey and just concentrate on ourselves because it’s not in our hands. We have to beat Limoges and that is what we are focused on and what we are in control of.”
Also, Ness Ziona will feature in the FIBA Europe Cup regular season that will be held this week in Wloclawek, Poland.
Brad Greenberg’s team will play three games in four days as it will look to advance out of its four-team group and advance to the next round. On Tuesday Ness Ziona tips off against Sporting CP from Portugal, Thursday it plays Hungarian squad Szolnoki Olajbanyasz and Friday it is slated to face host Arged BMSLAM Stal.
“The Portuguese team is undefeated in their league, and they play very aggressive defense,” said Greenberg. “The other two teams are among the best in their leagues with good size, and they are well coached. All the games will be challenging, and we are a little short-handed in the frontcourt. We will have to be creative with managing the roster ahead of the league. I’m not sure how we’re going to respond, and I know the guys are anxious to play games, which haven’t happened for a while. We have to figure out how to play three games in four days. We have to do it.”
In Israeli league action, Hapoel Beersheba downed Maccabi Rishon Lezion 70-62 thanks to a terrific second quarter that saw the Reds take advantage of Rishon’s 25 turnovers as they never looked back to take the victory.
Rishon Lezion jumped out to a 33-16 lead early on in the second quarter, but Beersheba ended the half with a 26-4 run to take a 39-37 advantage, and it dominated the game following the break to take the hard-earned win.
Caleb Agada led the way for Rami Hadar’s squad with 18 points in his return to action after being out injured for a couple of months, Spencer Weisz added 11 points and Amit Suss checked in with 10 points.
Akil Mitchell scored 23 points for Rishon, and Golan Gutt chipped in with 12 points in the loss.
Elsewhere, Bnei Herzliya sunk Hapoel Eilat 98-84 at the Red Sea City as Sharon Drucker’s squad controlled the clash from the outset.
Coty Clarke scored 27 points and grabbed nine rebounds for Herzliya, Max Heidegger scored 19 points while Terrell Parks dropped 13 points and added nine boards.
Jonathan Skjöldebrand led Ariel Beit Halachmi’s team with 18 points, Casey Prather scored 15 points and Josh Nebo put in 13 points and took down 12 rebounds in the defeat.
Also, Hapoel Haifa defeated Hapoel Holon 96-85 by the Carmel Mountain as five players featured in double-digits in the victory for Elad Hasin’s squad.
Amit Simhon starred with 22 points while going 5-of-7 from beyond the arc against his former team. Keenan Evans led the Reds with 23 points and eight assists, Rakeem Buckles added 17 points and nine rebounds, Egor Nestrenko scored 15 points and Jason Siggers chipped in with 12 points in the win.
Maxim De Zeeuw led Stefanos Dedas’s team with 27 points and CJ Harris scored 21 points in the loss.