Mac Haifa looking to kick-start BSL title defense

Haifa intent on challenging Mac TA again this season, bringing in bright coaching prospect Danny Franco and building a roster which has shown plenty of promise so far.

Raviv Limonad 370 (photo credit: Adi Avishai)
Raviv Limonad 370
(photo credit: Adi Avishai)
As was the case with Hapoel Holon (2008) and Hapoel Gilboa/Galil (2010) after they snatched the BSL championship from the grasp of Maccabi Tel Aviv, Maccabi Haifa also underwent a complete overhaul following its historic triumph last season.
Coach Brad Greenberg left for Hapoel Jerusalem, with only two significant squad players, Donta Smith and Ido Kozikaro, returning for another season.
However, unlike Holon and Gilboa, Haifa is intent on challenging the yellow-and- blue yet again this season, bringing in bright coaching prospect Danny Franco and building a roster which has shown plenty of promise so far.
After humbling defeats to the Phoenix Suns, Detroit Pistons and Memphis Grizzlies in its pre-season US tour, Haifa suffered painful setbacks in its Eurocup opener versus Unics Kazan and at Maccabi Tel Aviv in its first BSL game.
However, Haifa gave both Kazan and Maccabi a real run for their money despite their far bigger budgets and finally claimed its first win of 2013/14 last Wednesday, beating MZT Skopje 86-83 in Eurocup action in Macedonia.
Besides the reliable Smith and Kozikaro, Haifa’s roster also includes fervent playmaker Moran Roth, who is eager to prove his worth after a frustrating season at Maccabi Tel Aviv, with Venezuelan David Cubillan sharing the ball-handling responsibilities with the Israeli.
American Brian Randle and Uri Kukia give the team a strong foundation on the defensive end, with Ike Ofoegbu so far looking like a steal on both ends of the floor.
Dagan Yavzuri and Ben Rice ensure Franco has also got plenty of fire power off the bench and the sky truly is the limit if everything falls into place for the Greens the way it did last season.
First things first, however, with Haifa hoping to get off the mark in the BSL when it hosts Maccabi Ashdod on Sunday.
Ashdod stunned Hapoel Jerusalem at Malha Arena in its opener, only to lose to Barak Netanya at home last week.
Netanya hosts Bnei Herzliya on Sunday, while Holon visits Gilboa.
Also Sunday, Hapoel Tel Aviv returns to Hadar Yosef Arena when it hosts Maccabi Rishon Lezion.
Hapoel played its first home game of the season at Gan Ner after being punished for the unruly behavior of its fans and will be desperate to rebound from last week’s dramatic loss at Hapoel Eilat when it faces Rishon.
On Monday, Eilat, which is the only team with a 2-0 record, travels to Malha to face the 0-2 Jerusalem.
Also Monday, Ironi Ness Ziona hosts Maccabi Tel Aviv.