Maccabi Haifa (10-6) will travel tomorrow (Sunday) to face Hapoel Jerusalem (13-3) at 8:45 pm at Pais Arena for the 17th game of the Winner League. It’s the third game between the teams in the last two months, with their last meeting occurring one month ago on December 24 at Jerusalem as the Greens downed the Reds in the State Cup, 87-72.
“If we want to win against Jerusalem, we will have to put up the same type of performance we displayed in the Cup game against them,” head coach Rami Hadar said before the meeting in the capital.
The team from the Carmel recovered from their bitter loss to Maccabi Tel Aviv in the State Cup, winning two straight league games (Kiryat Gat and Herzeliya) at RK Arena. Last Monday, Herzeliya and Maccabi Haifa met which determined third place in the standings, and Haifa pulled out an overtime victory, 80-73, despite a desperation buzzer-beater three-pointer by Herzliya’s Drew Crawford that sent the game to overtime.
Chanan Colman and Reggie Buckner led the Greens scorers with 18 points each, but point guard Gregory Vargas had uneven game, tallying 8 assists alongside 9 turnovers and was 1-of-10 from the field. After registering only 4 points against Kiryat Gat, John DiBartolomeo scored in double figures for the 6th time this season, posting 13 points against Herzeliya.
“We are going to meet Jerusalem for the third time in the last two months, so the teams knows each other pretty well,” DiBartolomeo said. “We will have to execute and play with high intensity if we want to win in their gym again.”
It’s always interesting against the Reds from Jerusalem, and since they moved to the new Pais arena, the Greens are 2-1 (twice in the league and once in the cup )against Jerusalem. Donta Smith seems to relish playing against his former Haifa team; although he scored only 12 points in the Cup against the Greens, in the Winner League at RK Arena, he was unstoppable, notching 20 points, 13 rebounds and 6 assists in 36 minutes.
Danny Franco’s team returns home after suffering a road loss in the Eurocup, 75-71, to Strasbourg and are still without a win in the Last 32 round. In the Israeli league, however, they hold a four-game winning streak, including home victories over Maccabi Tel Aviv and Rishon Lezion. Donta Smith was the MVP against Tel Aviv as he was 1 assist shy of a triple-double. Against Rishon, it was Matt Janning who was the leading scorer with 18 points (4-of-7 from beyond the arc).