Basketball: It's back to local business for Maccabi

After Barca, Tel Aviv needs a win over Bnei Hasharon to keep hold of 1st place in the BSL.

Blumenthal Mac TA 224. (photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
Blumenthal Mac TA 224.
(photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
A month after suffering its first BSL home loss in more than three years Maccabi Tel Aviv will get its chance to exact revenge against Bnei Hasharon on Sunday night at the Nokia Arena. Bnei Hasharon defeated Maccabi 86-78 last month, ending a 55 game home league winning streak, which stretched all the way back to November 29, 2004. That defeat is also the only blemish so far on Tzvika Sherf's league record since he took charge of Maccabi in January, with the veteran coach winning 10 of 11 BSL games after replacing Oded Katash. Sunday's match-up won't only be about pride, but also about points as Bnei Hasharon can leapfrog Maccabi into first place with a victory. Effi Birenboim's men all but clinched their place in the Final Four with the 69-59 victory over Maccabi Rishon Lezion last Monday, their fifth straight win and seventh in their last eight games. Maccabi only returned from Spain on Friday following the team's 83-74 loss to Barcelona in the Game 2 of the three-game Euroleague quarterfinal series While the game against Bnei Hasharon is significant, Game 3 again Barcelona will make or break the yellow and blue's season. "Barcelona deserved to win the game. We didn't succeed in anything we wanted to do," Sherf said of Thursday's game. "Above all, we didn't manage to stop Basile, who had a great game. We now have Game 3 and both teams will be well prepared. "We will do everything we can to correct the mistakes we made. Every team will go on court in Game 3 with all they have. "Of course, every team likes to play at home and that gives you some advantage. We will try to use this advantage to play better." Maccabi's Croatian center Nikola Vujcic noted the impact Barcelona's Gianluca Basile had on the game, where he scored 34 points including six three-pointers. "It is not easy to win in Barcelona. They really played a good game, especially Basile, who was unbelievable," he said. "We finished first in the Top 16 and have the home court advantage, so we hope to use it now. It doesn't mean anything if you don't win, so we now have to focus on Game 3." In other BSL action Ironi Ramat Gan will try and end its four game losing streak on Sunday when its hosts Katash's Hapoel Galil Elyon. Galil won its first game under Katash last week, claiming an impressive road victory at Ironi Nahariya. Nahariya and coach Ariel Beit-Halahmi went their separate ways after losing for a third straight game last week, and former assistant Miki Gorka will guide the team at Ironi Ashkelon on Sunday. Also Sunday, Hapoel Holon goes for its 10th win in 12 games when it visits Maccabi Rishon Lezion. On Monday, Hapoel Jerusalem will be desperate to put its recent poor form behind it when it visits Hapoel Afula/Gilboa. Jerusalem has lost its last two league games and even the usually cool-headed Dan Shamir lost his temper last week at Malha Arena and squabbled with Hapoel fans which taunted him. Jerusalem is in real danger of missing out on the Final Four, but will have a tough time in Afula. Afula/Gilboa won two straight games before losing to Hapoel Holon last week and is fighting for its BSL life.