With rumors swirling, Naimi, Hapoel host Gilboa/Galil

Despite rift between J'lem's talented guard and management, he is expected to play.

Naimi 311 (photo credit: Hapoel Jerusalem website)
Naimi 311
(photo credit: Hapoel Jerusalem website)
After a tumultuous week off the court, Hapoel Jerusalem hosts Hapoel Gilboa/Galil at Malha Arena on Sunday night, desperately seeking a victory to rebound from last week’s thrashing at the hands of Maccabi Tel Aviv.
Jerusalem guard Yuval Naimi is expected to play after a whirlwind of rumors over the past week claiming his departure from the team was imminent.
The rift between Naimi and Hapoel management began exactly a month ago when the guard’s father spoke out against the club following the Eurocup qualifier against Belgacom Liege.
Kobi Naimi claimed Jerusalem has set out to hurt his son because he refused to sign a new contract in the summer.
Complicating matters even further is the fact that Naimi’s sister is married to Hapoel chairman Danny Klein, pushing the falling-out between the player and the club beyond the realm of sport.
Following Naimi’s father’s outburst, the club decided to take back electrical appliances the player was given as a benefit by Hapoel, with the removal van arriving at Naimi’s house hours before last Sunday’s game against Maccabi Tel Aviv.
The club’s directorate met on Thursday night to discus Naimi’s future in Jerusalem, and decided to try and work out the differences between the fanfavorite guard and the club.
“Yuval is an excellent player and he is part of the team,” Hapoel coach Oded Katash said after being updated on Thursday’s directorate meeting. “I know Yuval wants to stay and succeed at the club. I see Yuval not only ending this season at Hapoel, but also remaining at the club for far longer.”
Katash also has on-court matters to deal with after his team fell to 1-2 on the season following the defeat at the Nokia Arena.
Hapoel scored just 55 points against Maccabi last week and will be expecting a significant improvement on offense against a Gilboa team which has won two straight BSL games after losing its opener to the yellow-and-blue.
Also Sunday, Maccabi Haifa hosts Ironi Ashkelon and Hapoel Holon visits Maccabi Ashdod.
On Saturday, Bnei Hasharon fell to its first BSL defeat of the season, losing 77-66 at Barak Netanya.
Netanya pulled ahead by outscoring Bnei Hasharon 28- 15 in the second quarter and held on for an impressive win.
Elton Brown had 22 points and 10 rebounds for the hosts with Adrian Banks scoring 18.
Lee Nailon scored 17 points for Bnei Hasharon, which lost its first game of the season.
Maccabi Tel Aviv visits Maccabi Rishon Lezion on Monday.