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hapoel jerusalem_311.(Photo by: Cajasol Sevilla website)
Struggling Hapoel J’lem now must face mighty Maccabi TA
By ALLON SINAI
01/02/2011
Oded Katash’s team has yet to recover from its early Eurocup exit and the humbling 23-point BSL thrashing at the hands of Maccabi Ashdod.
The last thing Hapoel Jerusalem needs at the moment is a game against Maccabi Tel Aviv.

Oded Katash’s team got back to winning ways with a victory in the State Cup last 16 at Hapoel Afula last week, but it has yet to really recover from its early Eurocup exit and the humbling 23-point BSL thrashing at the hands of Maccabi Ashdod.

Multiple injuries left Katash without enough players to hold proper training sessions several times during the last few weeks, and Brian Randle and Yuval Naimi are both still doubtful for Sunday’s showdown against the yellow-andblue at Malha Arena.

Yogev Ohayon returned to action in last week’s cup game, but Hapoel remains a clear underdog against Maccabi.

Tel Aviv beat Jerusalem 75-55 when the teams met at Nokia Arena earlier this season, and with a 19-2 record in all competitions, Maccabi is one of the hottest teams in European basketball.

Nevertheless, Tel Aviv – which has split its last 10 encounters at Malha – has no intention of taking Sunday’s game lightly, with assistant coach Guy Goodes wary of the threat posed by Jerusalem.

“Everyone is looking at Jerusalem’s recent results, but this is not an easy game,” said Goodes, who joined Maccabi this summer after two seasons as Jerusalem’s head coach.

“Hapoel is a good team with a talented roster and players who are coming back from injuries.

The games against Jerusalem are always difficult and interesting and I’m expecting another tough contest.”

Meanwhile, Maccabi Ashdod will look to continue its surprising run when it visits Maccabi Rishon Lezion on Sunday.

Ofer Berkowitz’s newly-promoted side has won six of its last seven league games and outplayed Bnei Hasharon on its way to the quarterfinals of the cup last week.

Also Sunday, Maccabi Haifa’s new coach Ami Nawi will try and lead his team to its first win after six straight losses when Barak Netanya comes to Nesher.

Bnei Hasharon visited Hapoel Holon on Saturday, with Ironi Ashkelon to welcome Hapoel Gilboa/Galil on Monday.
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