Coming off two tough losses to the two best teams in the league, Hapoel Jerusalem and Maccabi Tel Aviv respectively, Maccabi Hunter Haifa faces Maccabi Ashdod on Wednesday, April 6 at RK Arena. Tip-off is at 19:00.
Coach Rami Hadar:”I hope the next game against Ashdod will get us back to a winning streak. We will need high concentration and our stamina in order to reach the target.”
The third-place Greens (15-11) look to rebound on Wednesday night against a struggling Maccabi Ashdod (11-15) team, which has lost four straight games. Ashdod’s last win came against the Greens on March 5 in a 90-83 victory at their gym. In that game, Haifa took a one-point edge going into the fourth quarter, but Ashdod’s Willy Workman, who scored a career-high 18 points and snared 7 rebounds, along with a combined 30 points and 13 rebounds from Jonathan Skjoldebrand and Jared Homan, proved too much for Haifa to overcome. Haifa was paced by Gregory Vargas’ 18 points, 7 rebounds, 6 assists, 5 steals and 5 turnovers in the loss.
It’s no secret the makeup of Haifa’s team success is built around their defense. However, on the other side of the floor, Haifa ranks 10th in the league in scoring (77.5 PPG). Rene Rougeau, a scrappy player known for doing the dirty work, has been slumping offensively over the last 10 games. In that span of time, Rougeau has scored in double figures only once and is averaging just 6.3 points, 3.7 rebounds and 2.4 assists in 23 minutes.
Over the last 3 games, the Greens are shooting just 21.5 percent (14-of-65) as a team from beyond the arc. In Haifa’s last game against Maccabi Tel Aviv, the Greens dished out a season-low 7 assists and shot a season-worst 17.6 percent from three-point range in the 67-59 defeat (Haifa’s lowest scoring output of the season).
GREEN LIGHT AT THE END OF THE TUNNEL
Despite the Greens’ offensive struggles, Haifa finds themselves in third place with the league’s best defense, and arguably the best defensive point guard in the league in Gregory Vargas. The Venezuelan floor leader has registered the most steals per game (2.6) and dishes out the second most assists in the league (6.6). Vargas is averaging 13.7 points per game, but his Achilles heel has been his turnovers (4.1), which leads the league.
Reggie Buckner busted out of his rebounding slump on Sunday against Maccabi Tel Aviv, snaring 8 boards while scoring a team-high 13 points along with 2 swatted shots in 22 minutes in the loss. Buckner is sixth in the league in blocks with 1.1 per game.
WAITING FOR HICKERSON’S BREAK OUT
Despite Leroy Hickerson’s arrival to Israel on March 18, he has logged a combined 4 minutes for the Greens over the 2 games against Hapoel Jerusalem and Maccabi Tel Aviv.
ASHDOD SCOUTING REPORT
Coach Zvika Sherf has been searching for answers over the last month, mainly due to the fact that his team has allowed an average of 90.1 points per game over that time span. In their last game, Ashdod fell to Eilat 90-72, led by a season-high 36 points on 11-of-21 shooting from the field by Charles Thomas. Isaiah Swann was the only other Ashdod player to reach double figures with 12 points. Diante Garret, who is Ashdod’s second leading scorer on the team (18.6 PPG), was limited to 2 points in 30 minutes in the loss to Eilat.
In the two games against Haifa, Ashdod has managed to limit the Greens to 80.5 points. Haifa won the first contest 78-74 between the two teams at RK Arena on Dec. 14. Haifa was paced by Captain Chanan Colman’s 17 points and 6 assists, while Ashdod’s Thomas filled up the stats sheet on 27 points and 9 rebounds in 27 minutes.
Thomas leads the league in scoring (20.2 PPG) and ranks fourth in VAL (21.3). As a team, Ashdod ranks fourth in the league in scoring (82.6 PPG), third in the league in three-point shooting percentage (37.5%) and third in the league in reboudning (39.0). The team ranks last in the league in steals (6.7).