Maccabi Hunter Haifa (9-10) will travel tomorrow (Monday) to face Maccabi Tel Aviv (14-5) for a 9:05 p.m. tip-off in the 20th game of the Winner League. The Greens have won two straight games (Ashdod and Jerusalem), while the Yellows are coming off a loss at home to Herzeliya.
Back on the road
The Greens from the Carmel enter Monday’s contest with extra confidence after a convincing 86-69 win over Hapoel Jerusalem. Now, they will go on a two game road trip, as they will head to Rishon Lezion next Sunday. The Greens will conclude the second round on Sunday, March 12 at 7:35 p.m. when they host Hapoel Eilat at Romema.
In the win over Jerusalem, Maccabi dominated from start to finish. The Greens’ leading scorer was Orlando Mendez-Valdez, who finished with 17 points on 5-of-6 from three-point range. Mendez-Valdez love the rims at Romema as he is shooting 52% from 3-point land at home, compared to 36% on the road. He takes the same amount of shots per game from downtown (5.0) both at home and on the road.
John DiBartolomeo put up a great fight defensively against Jerusalem’s Curtis Jerrells, holding him to 4-of-13 from the field. Offensivley, DiBartolomeo contributed 3 points in 23 minutes, snapping his three game streak of scoring in double figures, while averaging 12 points per game during that stretch.
“It’s always a challenge playing against Maccabi Tel Aviv, especially on the road,” Greens’ guard DiBartolomeo said. “But, we’ll look to carry our momentum and extend our winning streak.”
The .500 mark
With a 9-10 record, Monday’s contest in Tel Aviv will be the Greens’ seventh attempt to reach the .500 mark this season. The Greens had opportunities to do so against Kiryat Gat and Nahriya, but lost each game.
One of the keys to Maccabi Hunter Haifa’s victories can be credited to their foul shooting. The Greens get to the line only 20.1 times per game, but they make the most of it — leading the league on 75.9% shooting. In the last game, Oz Blayzer and Amit Simhon were a combined 10-for-10 from the charity stripe, and Will Graves netted 5-for-6 from the line. The Yellows also shoot well from the line, taking 19.6 shots per game on 75.6% shooting.
“I am satisfied with the team’s hard work over these past weeks — in practices and in games,” head coach, Offer Rahimi, said. “We are about to face the first place team and Cup holder, so we will have to come aggressive and focused.”
Head to head
The teams have faced one another 108 times in the regular season, with the Yellows holding a daunting 99-9 record against the Greens. On the road, Haifa has lost all 55 regular season games to Tel Aviv. The only win the Greens had against the Yellows was a bitter one, 84-82, in the second game of the 2013-14 Israeli League Finals. Haifa won 79-75 over Maccabi Tel Aviv in regulation, but since the Greens lost 81-77 at home in game one of the two-game Finals series, the contest was sent into overtime where Haifa lost a chance to earn back-to-back Israeli League championships.
In the first round of this season, the teams faced one another at Romema. With a short roster, Maccabi Hunter Haifa almost surprised the Yellows, but lost 83-81 at the end.
Coming after a loss
In their last league game, Tel Aviv hosted Herzeliya. The visitors led most of the game by double figures, but in the fourth quarter Maccabi Tel Aviv attempted a comeback (outscoring Herzeliya 28-21), but eventually Herzeliya prevailed 99-92.
Devin Smith, in his second league game this season (played only Euroleauge until last week), was excellent with 22 points and 9 rebounds. Besides Smith, who holds a 26.0 VAL average, Andrew Goudelock is the hot Yellow player, averaging 15.5 points, while scoring in 55.8% from downtown. The Yellows from Tel Aviv are experts in this range, as four of their players (Goudelock, Landesberg, Seeley and Pnini) are leading the league in 3-point range percentage.