Maccabi Haifa (8-5) will travel to Tel Aviv tomorrow (Tuesday) at 9:00 p.m. for a difficult road game against Hapoel Tel Aviv (5-9). The Greens begin the New Year on a 4-game winning streak, while the Reds snapped a four-game losing streak with a road victory over Nahariya.
“We are heading for a tough road game against good team. We will have to show maximum execution and accuracy in order to come back with a win,” head coach Rami Hadar said.
After the Greens’ big win over Hapoel Jerusalem in the State Cup, Rami Hadar’s team hosted Hapoel Eilat in an Israeli league contest, and avenged their first round loss with an impressive 79-61 win at RK Arena. Swingman Will Graves shined again, notching 24 points for his second consecutive league game, and also pulled down 8 rebounds. Rene Rougeau is hitting his stride as he contributed 14 points and 7 rebounds against Eilat, and John DiBartolomeo buried 50% (4-of-8) from downtown, on his way to 13 points.
Over the last five league games, Rougeau is posting averages of 14.2 points and 6.6 rebounds, however, in the first matchup against Hapoel Tel Aviv this season, he struggled with his shooting from the field (45%), but eventually finished with 10 points in the home win.
“Playing in one of the toughest atmosphere’s in all of Israel tomorrow night will be a great test for our team,” Rougeau said. “We’ve been working hard all week long ready for war against Hapoel Tel Aviv”.
In the first game between the two teams this season, the Greens won 70-64, after a great night by Gregory Vargas, who put on a show with 21 points, 7 rebounds and 5 assists. The Reds hosted the Greens twice last season, winning the first game 79-72, but in the second game, a great finish by the Greens earned Haifa an impressive 93-83 road victory. Rougeau notched 20 points, grabbed 7 rebounds, dished 4 assists and 4 steals in the victory last season.
Hapoel has struggled late in games as they give up a margin of 6.3 points on average in the fourth quarter. However, the Reds were able to get over the hump last week with a 71-63 road win over Nahariya, snapping a four-game losing streak. Former Haifa center Robert Rothbart tallied 15 points and 8 rebounds in 27 minutes in the win, and young Tamir Blat contributed 11 points, including 3 shots from beyond the arc.
Raviv Limonad is the leading scorer for the Reds, averaging 13.5 points per game, but against Nahariya he had recorded 5 points. Right after him is new addition, Tre Simmons, who is averaging 13.2 points after 5 games. Point guard, Talor Battle is also posting 13.1 points per game, but he is even better with passing the ball to his teammates, as he is dishing out 6.4 assists per game, third in the league (one place above Gregory Vargas).