Maccabi Bazan Haifa (16-15) will travel tomorrow (Thursday) at 9:05pm to face Hapoel Jerusalem at the new Pais arena. The game will be broadcast live on Sport5. The Greens are riding a four-game winning streak, while the Reds were upset by Herzeliya in their last game, snapping their 7 game winning streak.
The Greens’ last victory was extra sweet, defeating defending champions Maccabi Tel Aviv at Romema. The Greens led for almost the entire game, thanks to an MVP performance by Ike Ofoegbu (25 points), who was awarded Player of the Month prior to the game.
“The game against Hapoel Jerusalem is a big challenge for us”, said head coach Rami Hadar. “We will have to come sharp and determined, in order to win the game”.
Without Moran Roth, who injured his shoulder in the game against Ashdod, Israeli guards Dagan Yivzori (14 points, 5 assists, 4 steals), Chanan Colman (13 points, 8 rebounds, 5 assists) and Tamir Ariely (9 points, 3-of-3 from 3-PT) all stepped up in his absence. Another dominant player for Haifa was swingman Will Graves, who contributed 12 points.
“Every game down the stretch has been a big game for us”, said Graves. “The game against Jerusalem will be the same. They are a great team and we need to win. Play hard and execute the game plan and we’ll be fine”.
For the first time since the third round, the Greens have an above .500 record at 16-15. Maccabi has 2 more games remaining in the regular season, starting with tomorrow’s contest at Jerusalem, and followed by a game against Hapoel Holon at Romema at 9:05pm. All Israeli league games in the final round will be played at the same hour.
Danny Franco’s Jerusalem team, despite the loss in their last game, had been playing great basketball and even briefly grabbed first place. Former Haifa star, Donta Smith is averaging 18.0 points, 6.6 rebounds and 5.0 assist over his last three games. Israeli power forward, Lior Eliyahu, had his best game of the season against Herzeliya, tallying 26 points, 8 assists and 7 rebounds.
The last time Haifa faced Hapoel Jerusalem, the Greens won a dramatic contest, 90-88, in Jerusalem on December 12, 2014, in which Donta Smith missed three consecutive free throws to seal a Green victory. Jerusalem now feature two dominant players, which the Greens haven’t played against. Center Deon Thompson is averaging 11.8 points and 5.2 rebounds in 20.0 minutes, and point guard Tywain McKee is averaging 8.3 points, 4.2 assists and 6.4 rebounds in 26.4 minutes over 17 games.