Local Hoops: Jerusalem aims to hold on to top spot

Guy Goodes's team hosts Ironi Nahariya tonight as Mac TA visits Ramat Gan.

timmy bowers 248 88 (photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
timmy bowers 248 88
(photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
Hapoel Jerusalem will look to cement its position at the top of the BSL standings when the league returns from its four-week winter break on Sunday. Jerusalem hosts Ironi Nahariya at Malha Arena, in a game which was postponed by 24 hours following the Katyusha firing on Nahariya. The home team will be hoping to extend its league winning streak to six games after the long lay-off. Hapoel hosts German club Oldenburg in its final EuroChallenge group game on Tuesday, just 48 hours after its encounter against Nahariya, but coach Guy Goodes is certain his team can handle the fixture congestion. "We've played on Sunday and then on Tuesday before and if this is what has been decided we will do so again," Goodes told Radio Jerusalem. Nahariya, which will be playing for the first time since stunning Maccabi Tel Aviv in the State Cup three weeks ago, will have to manage without American Philip Ricci, who decided not to return to Israel following the fighting in Gaza. Maccabi Tel Aviv visits Ironi Ramat Gan on Sunday, looking to build on Thursday's impressive Euroleague victory over Olympiacos. Maccabi played its best game of the season against the Greeks, but lost its last two games in Israel, against Bnei Hasharon in the league and against Nahariya in the Cup. On Friday, Lior Eliyahu, Omri Casspi and Marcus Fizer took out time to visit soldiers on the Gaza border. "We visited Golani and Givati bases right on the border and cheered up the soldiers," Casspi said. "One of the soldiers was injured on Thursday and his company commander told us that the first question the soldier asked him in the morning was 'what was the result from the Maccabi game?'" Bnei Hasharon will be aiming to leave the trauma of Tuesday's terrifying experience in Turkey behind it when it hosts Maccabi Rishon Lezion on Sunday. The Sharon team defeated Tel Aviv in its last league game, while Rishon will be playing for the first time under the guidance of its third coach of the season, Ofer Berkowitz. After failing with both Ziv Erez and Miki Dorsman, who combined for a 1-7 record in the BSL, Rishon decided to call back Berkowitz, who saved the club from relegation last season. Also Sunday, Hapoel Holon hosts Maccabi Givat Shmuel and the struggling Elitzur Kiryat Ata visits Hapoel Galil Elyon/Gilboa. On Monday, Maccabi Haifa hosts Ironi Ashkelon, which has been training out of its home town since the start of the fighting in the South.