Ready for the third round: Hapoel Holon are coming to RK Arena

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Maccabi Hunter Haifa (13-9) will host Hapoel Holon (8-14) to start the third round on Sunday at 7:35 pm at RK Arena. Despite the last two losses, Maccabi finished the second round in third place, and will host six home games in the third round: Holon, Jerusalem, Ashdod, Herzeliya, Nahariya and Eilat.

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The two losses shrunk the gap between the teams behind Maccabi Hunter Haifa in the standings, and now are just one game out of the loss column from sixth-place Nahariya.

Last Tuesday’s game against Rishon LeZion was the weakest offensive performance since the eighth game of the season, when Maccabi scored only 63 points, in the defeat to Maccabi Tel Aviv. Three Green players scored in double figures against Rishon Lezion, Gregory Vargas had his sixth game in a row with more than 11 points (scored 14). Alex Chubrevich added 13 points, and Chanan Colman, who celebrated his 32nd birthday this past Thursday, had 12 of his own.

“Holon are in a good period, and we have not forgotten the game we had there, ” head coach Rami Hadar said before the game. “The upcoming game is an opportunity to learn from our mistakes and open the third round with a win.”

Two players didn’t find their rhythm on offense against Rishon; John DiBartolomeo snapped his 4-game streak of scoring in double figures, posting only 3 points as well as a negative VAL for the first time since the fifth game of the season. Reggie Buckner, who also had a successful second round, posted only 4 points in 19 minutes.

“We will come prepared for this game, after two losses, we have to give our all for the team and hopefully get the win,” center Reggie Buckner said. “The last two games, I think that our two opponents played a lot harder, and on my end, I didn’t play well, so I am practicing hard every day in order to turn it around.”

The teams have met twice this season. In the first game, the Greens won 66-62 at RK Arena, and in the second game, it was Holon that recorded an 85-77 win at their arena (Maccabi played without Graves and Buckner due to injuries).

Holon is enjoying a three-game winning streak, after a win at Eilat, and two home victories against Hapoel Tel Aviv and Kiryat Gat. Will Clyburn is riding an amazing three game wave, averaging 30.7 points and 6.3 rebounds.

Dan Shamir’s team recently signed center, Amit Bir-Katz, who left Nahariya after posting only 1.3 points and 1.6 rebounds in 7.2 minutes per game. Another new center, Ivan Radenovic, has still not find himself in the league, averaging 5 points and 3.5 rebounds in 16.5 minutes in 5 games. Isaac Rosefelt, however, improved his game significantly in the second round, posting averages of 14 points and 8.9 rebounds per game.