Maccabi looks for Euroleague Double Week sweep, Don’t count Holon out, Jerusalem recovers, Bachar for Israel

Mar 22, 2024 | Holyland Hoops

Maccabi Tel Aviv is in Munich for a critical Euroleague clash with Bayern as the yellow-and-blue will look to close in on a quarterfinal spot as they enter the contest with a 17-13 record and in 7th place. Pablo Laso’s German squad are 13-17 good for 14th place but are only one game out of Play In position as the intensity heats up with only four games to go in the regular season.

One of the oddities of this season for Oded Katash’s team is that they have yet to sweep a Double Week and as we head into the backend of the final one of the campaign, the yellow-and-blue know full well that if they want to try and slip into 6th place and a direct spot in the playoffs this would be the most opportune time to do exactly that while also winning at Bayern for the first time in five years.

Oded Katash – Photo Credit: Yehuda Halickman

“Looking at this season’s statistics, they are not with us in double weeks” Katash said. “We will try to take two wins for the first time but it will not be easy and certainly not here. Bayern is a new team with a new coach, playing better and better as the season has progressed.”

Captain John Dibartolomeo agreed wholeheartedly with the bench boss, “Tough challenge for us trying to get two wins in a double week for the first time this season, Bayern is a really tough opponent and we have to be ready to play.”

Bayern is no question a tough team and features NBA Champion Serge Ibaka but they will be missing some of their inside play and will need to find some wins quickly should they thrown t9 take the final Play In slot Coach Pablo Laso explained, “The defeat against Valencia now leads to us being dependent on others and no longer having control. Maccabi has a strong team and can still make it directly to the playoffs. And yes, that was a tough loss because we gifted them the start and simply couldn’t hit a single shot. But it’s a home game and we’re playing with our fans. And we want to be there, in case there’s still a chance, we’ll fight until the end. Devin Booker is definitely out for Friday.”

Antonius Cleveland – Photo Credit: Yehuda Halickman

Antonius Cleveland understands that if Maccabi wants to pick up the W they’ll need to keep to the game plan, “Tough game against a pretty good team who are fighting to get into the playoffs just like us and we have to come out and continue our good habits, take advantage of the moment, come out ready to play from the first quarter and stick to the game plan.”

But above all Katash knows that Bayern are going to be giving it their all as they have a very slim margin of error should they want to get into the Play In, “This is also their last chance for the Play In so it will probably be a very aggressive and intense game. They will miss having Devin Booker, so it is very possible that they will play with smaller lineups, although they will miss him on defense. They will be able to be more dangerous offensively and this requires us to be very focused.”

Amit Sherf – Photo Credit: Yehuda Halickman

Hapoel Holon deserves a ton of credit for the Basketball Champions League campaign that they put in, just falling short of advancing to the quarterfinals after finishing the Round of 16 Group Stage with an impressive 4-2 record which included a 64-60 win over ACB side Murcia in the final game. The Purples under rookie head coach Amit Sherf did their fan base as well as Israeli basketball proud during a tough, tough time.

Holon had injuries, Holon had to play outside of Israel and Holon had very little chance according to many when looking at the quality of their roster and the level of the opponents that they had to play. But it was all hands on deck for each and every game as well as from the support that management gave the squad each time a player went down but quickly reacting and bringing in a new player for each issue that arose.

The club could not have handled the situation any better and kudos to the entire team from top to bottom for that.

Drew Crawford – Photo credit: Yehuda Halickman

The players were able to end the season off with their heads raised high in the air, proud of their accomplishment which is not something to be taken for granted.

Now it’s on to the balance of the domestic league season with a Saturday night road game at Nes Ziona and an Israel State Cup 1st round clash which will pit Sherf against one of his former bosses in Guy Goodes and Hapoel Haifa.

Both games will be dangerous for Holon with Nes Ziona featuring a new player in Marcus Zegarowski who will want to impress his new team and coach Elad Hasin while Goodes will look to hit the purples weak points on Wednesday night.

But one thing that I have learned is that you don’t count out Sherf and Holon under any circumstance.

Justin Smith – Photo Credit: Yehuda Halickman

Justin Smith has been super, Tahjere McCall is making an impact, plus Kevin Hervey, Drew Crawford, Hans Vanwign and CJ Harris to go along with arguably the best group of Israelis from Netanel Artzi, Niv Misgav, Shachar Amir, Yotam Hanochi and Shawn Dawson who should be returning, there are very few rosters who can match this level of talent.

Holon will come off of the continental campaign in good spirits and there is no reason to think that they will not be able to continue their fine play on the local stage as the State Cup gets underway.

Or Cornelius – Photo Credit: Dov Halickman

Hapoel Jerusalem visits Bnei Herzliya on Sunday night which will no doubt be a super insightful contest to see where the Reds are after having been bounced out of Europe and their head coach Ilias Kantzouris was sent packing. How will the players react? What will be their mental state? How will the reintroduction of the assistant coaches Shai Olerarczyk and Theo Giannakopoulos along with sports director Yonatan Alon who will be helping out the duo on the sidelines go?

These are all going to be super duper questions that I can’t wait to see the answers to. After seeing and hearing Speedy Smith right after the loss to Karsiyaka it was if he had taken a massive punch to the gut and was down for the count. While the players may all be professionals, being able to just wipe off crashing out of Europe along with seeing the head coach fired is obviously not something that the squad will just be able to brush off like a gnat. There may be fans in Herzliya supporting the club, there is no doubt that the players will not have an easy time.

Hapoel Tel Aviv came off of their elimination by absolutely smashing Hapoel Jerusalem, but I am not sure that Hapoel Jerusalem will be able to do the same. Tel Aviv didn’t bid adieu to their head coach Danny Franco and Tel Aviv also has two very vocal and senior Israelis in Bar Timor and Tomer Ginat who probably helped the club out after falling to another Turkish foe in Besiktas.

Zach Hankins – Photo Credit: Yehuda Halickman

Jerusalem really doesn’t have those types of veteran Israelis to be able to really pull the team together and that could cost them dearly at the HaYovel Arena.

After the road tilt at Herzliya, Jerusalem will head home for an Israel State Cup contest against Hapoel Galil Elyon which on paper should be an easy as pie game. However, Barak Peleg’s squad has a new center in Shonn Miller to go along with James Feldeine, Omer Silverio and Roi Huber. This could be a very goose teat for Jerusalem as they will long to get back onto the winning track.

Barak Bachar – Photo Credit: Maccabi Haifa

What more can I say about the Israel National Soccer Team? They are just an embarrassing disgrace from top to bottom. From seeing the list of players called up, to the starting lineup and then the game itself which was followed up by pathetic post match comments was just too much for me to stomach after getting walloped by Iceland 4-1.

Let’s start with Alon Hazan and Yossi Benayoun not calling in one of your best strikers in Shon Weissman who was just named player of the month at his new Italian Serie A club Salernitana. That was followed up by not starting your best all around player in up and coming starlet Oscar Gloukh, a total collapse after Israel went up 1-0 on an Eran Zahavi penalty in the first half, to a poorly timed tackle by Roy Revivo which left the blue-and-white with ten men, to then the same
Zahavi missing a penalty to tie the game up which was followed by two more Icelandic goals.

Oy Vey!

But then the piece de resistance took place during the post game comments when Alon Hazan spoke as he was detached from the entire disaster to Zahavi saying that he scored a penalty in the first half and even if he would have scored the second Israel was playing with a man down.

Can you get any more pathetic than that?

It’s time to bring in Barak Bachar as the head coach and allow him to build a proper system and staff that will see the younger players taking charge. The defense has to be totally revamped as does the midfield and the attack.

Give Bachar the keys and let him get to work.

Enough of the nonsense already, we keep going backwards instead of going forward and now is the opportunity to change that with Bachar being available.

Sign up for our newsletter


You may also like…


Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates. 

You have Successfully Subscribed!