Maccabi Haifa (8-6) will host Maccabi Kiryat Gat (4-10) tomorrow (Thursday) at 7:30pm at RK Arena in the 15th round of the Winner League. Both teams suffered losses in State Cup quarterfinals, as the Greens blew a fourth quarter lead against Maccabi Tel Aviv, and Kiryat Gat lost to the Yellows from Ashdod.
Maccabi Haifa has lost their last two games after falling to Hapoel Tel Aviv on the road, as well as the heartbreaking loss to Maccabi Tel Aviv at a soldout RK Arena. Maccabi Haifa blew a 14-point lead in the fourth quarter, and Taylor Rochestie drained a controversial 3-pointer to sink Haifa, 73-70. The leading scorer for the Greens was Rene Rougeau, who notched 16 points and added 7 rebounds and 5 steals.
“Kiryat Gat have been upgraded since the teams met. We have to focus on ourselves and play our game, in order to get back to the winning track in the league,” said head coach Rami Hadar.
The Greens guard John DiBartolomeo has been improving his scoring, tallying 11 points (50% from beyond the arc) in the Cup game against Maccabi Tel Aviv. In his last three league games, he has posted averages of 12 points (60% from 3-point range on 10-of-17 shooting) and 3.3 assists in 25 minutes per game. In contrast, Oz Blayzer, who opened the season with 8 straight games scoring in double figures, has not scored more than 6 points in his last 6 league games, with the exception of the game against Ashdod, where he registered 13 points in 29 minutes.
“We are coming to a very important game for us at our home, and I am calling all the fans to come out and show their support,” Blayzer said. “We will have to bring all of our aggressiveness and accuracy to this game, in order to win again.”
In the last round, the teams met for the first time at Ashkelon’s arena, as the Greens defeated Kiryat Gat 86-81 for their first road win this season. Maccabi Haifa’s Gregory Vargas (25 points and 8 assists) and Chanan Colman, who contributed 17 points, led the way to knock off Kiryat Gat. Meir Tapiro and Delaney scored 17 points each, but since this game, Nati Cohen’s roster has been changed.
Three imports, who played against Maccabi Haifa (McKinney Jones, Oliver and Love) last time have been released from the team, and have been replaced by two very dominant players. Veteran and former Maccabi Haifa center Marco Killingsworth joined the team and has posted 15.8 points and 10.3 rebounds in 34.8 minutes in 4 games. Before he arrived, forward Alando Tucker signed for the blues, and thus far has averaged 16.6 points and 6.4 rebounds in 32.7 minutes.