Cup craze grips Jerusalem ahead of semifinals

Maccabi Tel Aviv and Hapoel Jerusalem are just one win away from setting up a classic showdown in the State Cup final.

February 16, 2015 03:57
2 minute read.

The coaches of Hapoel Eilat (Dan Shamir), Hapoel Jerusalem (Danny Franco), Maccabi Tel Aviv (Guy Goodes) and Maccabi Haifa (Rami Hadar) pose with the State Cup ahead of Monday's semifinals at the Jerusalem Arena.. (photo credit: ODED KARNI/BSL)

Maccabi Tel Aviv and Hapoel Jerusalem are just one win away from setting up a classic showdown in the State Cup final. However, Maccabi Haifa and Hapoel Eilat have every intention of spoiling the party in Monday’s semifinals at the Jerusalem Arena.

Maccabi and Jerusalem haven’t met in the cup final since 2008 when Hapoel erased a 20-point deficit in the fourth quarter to record a remarkable victory and lift the trophy for a second straight year.

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Jerusalem hasn’t won a title since, failing to even reach the league or cup finals over the past six years.

Maccabi, on the other hand, is hoping to claim its sixth consecutive cup in Thursday’s final, but before it contemplates a possible meeting with Jerusalem it will first have to overcome Haifa on Monday.

The teams met at Yad Eliyahu Arena just last week, with Tel Aviv coming back from a 21-point deficit to record a 74-70 win.

Maccabi was completely lost for much of the opening half, hitting just one of its first 17 field-goal attempts and turning over the ball time and again.

Guy Goodes’s men ultimately eked out a 13th straight BSL win, but their poor form caught up with them last Thursday, with the yellowand- blue dropping to a shock 66-59 loss to Alba Berlin in Euroleague action at Yad Eliyahu.

Goodes is hoping that disappointing defeat will prove to be a timely wake-up call for his team.

“We were in fantastic form for much of the past two months but since the win over Real Madrid we have suffered from a dip in form which is only natural. You can’t maintain the same level of play for 80 games,” Goodes explained. “I hope that the dip came at the right time because we are facing a very significant and intense week. There are no excuses once you reach this stage. We have played on the big stage under a lot of pressure before and we know how to deal with it.”

Eilat beat Jerusalem in their only BSL meeting earlier this season, claiming an 87-85 win in the Jerusalem Arena.

That was the first of five consecutive league defeats for Jerusalem, which has since bounced back to win four of five games.

Eilat, which is guided by Dan Shamir who led Jerusalem to its cup triumphs in 2007 and 2008, is aiming to reach its second straight final after losing to Maccabi last year.

“This isn’t just another game,” said Jerusalem coach Danny Franco. “We can’t wait for the tip-off. The city is gripped. Something special is happening here.”

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