Maccabi Hunter Haifa (7-8) will have a short ride to face Ironi Nahariya (7-8) on Sunday for a 7:25 pm tip-off at Ein Sara. Both teams enter the game with identical records, hoping to rise in the log-jammed Winner League standings.
Last Monday, the Greens traveled to Gan Ner to take on Hapoel Gilboa/Galil — a team in the midst of a four-game losing streak. Despite Maccabi missing their workhorse, Willy Workman, who sat out due to injury (will be a game-time decision against Nahariya), the Greens exploded to notch an impressive 94-73 win on the road.
Maccabi broke a franchise record by connecting on 16 3-pointers. Amit Simhon buried 7 from long range (career-high) to score 28 points and tally a 32 VAL (both career-highs), while Captain Oz Blayzer registered 27 points and 39 VAL to set new career-highs of his own.
“We are up for another hard game against a team with good momentum,” Maccabi Hunter Haifa head coach Offer Rahimi said. “We’ll have to bring the offensive flow and the intensity from last game, in order to earn another win.”
Overall, Haifa has won four of their last five league games. Part of that success is due to Gregory Vargas, who has been on fire since his return to the Greens. In his first three games, the point guard is averaging 15.7 points, 8.7 assists, 5.7 rebounds and 1.7 steals in 36.7 minutes per game. The Greens have won two of the three games with Vargas, who notched 11 assists in each of the two victories.
The win over the Reds at Gan Ner highlighted the difference in Captain Oz Blayzer’s in wins versus losses. In the Greens’ victories, Blayzer is averaging 15.7 points, 7.2 rebounds and 1.7 steals per game, while in losses, he is only registering 8.5 points and 5.5 rebounds. For Orlando Mendez-Valdez, his success seems to depend on if he is starting or coming off the bench. As a starter, he is averaging 13 points per game, compared to 7 points per game, coming off the bench.
““This game is important because it’s another opportunity for us to have a chance to win another tough road game,” Mendez-Valdez said. “Obviously a victory like this would give our team confidence and that can help a lot mentally to continue the process in a more uplifting environment.”
Head to Head
Nahariya Scouting report
Ironi Nahariya has also been streaking of late, as coach Eric Alfasi’s team has won four of their last six league games — the two losses were to Maccabi Tel Aviv (in overtime) and to Hapoel Jerusalem last week, 81-78, after a buzzer beater 3-pointer. Three players from Nahariya are scoring in double figures with Gilbert Brown leading the way, averaging 15.0 points per game. Yancy Gates is right behind Brown with 13.7 points and 6.9 rebounds per game.
The only Israeli who scores more than 10 points per game is Jonathan Skjoldebrand, who in 25.7 minutes per game, is averaging 11.4 points and 4.5 rebounds. The two point guards of Nahariya are responsible for 50% of the team’s assists, as Derwin Kitchen has 6.2 assists per game and Niv Berkowitz dishes out 4 dimes in a game. The last time the two teams met was on November 6, 2016, as Maccabi Hunter Haifa defeated Nahariya, 96-75, at Romema.