Maccabi Tel Aviv on ESPN3

As they continue their quest to win back-to-back Euroleague titles, Israeli basketball powerhouse Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv has begun Euroleague Top 16 play in recent weeks. After qualifying for this third-to-last stage in the competition, they will play 14 games from now until April, aiming to make the top 8 for the early-April playoff round, which will feature home-and-home contests between the remaining teams. The winner of that penultimate stage will advance to the Euroleague Final Four in Madrid from May 15-17.

The best part about this year’s run-up to Madrid is that ESPN3, which you can watch online or via the WatchESPN app, is broadcasting most, if not all, of the games as the teams work their way through the qualifying process for the playoffs.

Euroleague has up-tempo and entertaining basketball, and almost no TV timeouts, so it’s a nice change of pace from interminably long NBA games. Maccabi, as usual, sits at the top of the Israeli league standings, and in Euroleague Top 16 play, and after losing their first game in Top 16 play against PAOK Athens by a 83-76 score, they won their next one against Crvena Zvezda (Belgrade) 78-67.

This month on ESPN3 you can catch Maccabi Tel Aviv’s playing Barcelona on January 15 at 2:05 pm, Zalgiris Kaunas (Lithuania) on January 23 at 12:45 pm, and Real Madrid on January 29 at 2:05 pm. Full the full broadcast schedule, click here.

A Double Defeat for Maccabi Haifa

In the only Sunday soccer match on the Ligat Ha’Al calendar, Maccabi Haifa hosted Maccabi Tel Aviv at the Sammy Ofer Stadium with an eye towards pulling an upset over the 2nd place visitors. It was not meant to be. Eran Zahavi’s 78th minute penalty have the guests a 1:0 victory and kept Tel Aviv just one point behind HaPoel Kiryat Shmonah at the top of the standings. After scoring a goal in an astonishing 17 straight games, Zahavi was held scoreless in the two games leading up to Sunday’s clash, but his goal from the penalty sport gave him his 18th goals in Tel Aviv’s 17 matches thus far this season.

To say that the two teams are heading in opposite directions would be a fair assessment. Tel Aviv has claimed 13 points from their 4-0-1 record over their last five games, while Haifa has grabbed a mere 2 points from their 0-3-2 record over the same span. The Haifa’im have slipped from 4th place to 8th place since December 22, but even worse, have fallen behind their crosstown rivals HaPoel Haifa on the league table.