Local Hoops: Home, sweet home as Hap J'lem looks to rebound vs Galil/Gilboa

Guy Goodes's side has struggled desperately away from home in recent weeks, losing its last three road encounters.

timmy bowers 248 88 (photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
timmy bowers 248 88
(photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
Hapoel Jerusalem will look to bounce back from last week's 21-point humbling at Hapoel Holon when it returns to the Malha Arena on Sunday to host Hapoel Galil/Gilboa. Guy Goodes's side has struggled desperately away from home in recent weeks, losing its last three road encounters by an average 17.7 points per game. However, Hapoel is still a perfect 8-0 in the BSL at Malha this season, thrashing Maccabi Haifa by 22 points just two weeks ago. Jerusalem's new center Torin Francis, who signed with the team on Wednesday after being released by Greek club AEL of Larissa, could make his debut on Sunday and is desperate to play at Malha. "I know there are high expectations from the club and that everyone wants to make history," said the 25-year-old Francis, who played his college ball at Notre Dame. "I believe I will bond with the team as quickly as possible and I hope to contribute from my experience. "In most games in Larissa, there were very few fans. I decided to play in Jerusalem because of the reputation of the warm fans." After struggling in recent months, Galil/Gilboa claimed a confidence boosting 101-87 victory over Maccabi Rishon Lezion last week, bringing the team to within just one game of home-court advantage in the quarterfinal playoffs. One of the teams fighting Galil for home-court advantage is cup-holder Hapoel Holon. Danny Franco's team has played the most exciting basketball in the league in the last few weeks, winning three straight games, including last week's crushing defeat of Jerusalem. On Sunday, Franco takes his men up North for a difficult road game at Ironi Nahariya. Ya'acov Jino has got his team once more concentrating on happenings on-court, after the near financial collapse of the club earlier this month, and with just five games remaining in the regular season, a third straight league victory on Sunday will be a significant boost to the side's playoff push. Maccabi Haifa, which has lost three straight, including its last two by a combined 41 points, will have an ideal opportunity to return to winning ways on Sunday when it hosts rock-bottom Ironi Kiryat Ata. Also Sunday, Bnei Hasharon visits Ironi Ashkelon and Maccabi Givat Shmuel hosts Ironi Ramat Gan. On Monday, Maccabi Tel Aviv completes the week's slate when it travels to face Maccabi Rishon Lezion.