Hapoel Jerusalem forward Donta Smith (right) and Derwin Kitchen.
(photo credit: LIRON MOLDOVAN/BSL)
Hapoel Jerusalem overcame a fierce battle against Maccabi Rishon Lezion to advance to the State Cup semifinals on Sunday night.
Jerusalem eked out an 81-78 overtime win at Rishon thanks to a strong defensive showing in the closing stages of the fourth quarter and overtime.
Much-maligned forward Donta Smith led Jerusalem to the semis with 22 points, while Lior Eliyahu added 14 points.
Isaiah Swann scored 20 points for Rishon, which was moments away from recording the upset.
Jerusalem joined Maccabi Tel Aviv, Maccabi Haifa and Hapoel Eilat in the semis, which will be held at the Jerusalem Arena on February 16.
The final will also take place in Jerusalem three days later.
The draw for the semis will be made on Tuesday.
After a tight affair, a Tony Younger three-pointer gave Rishon a six-point margin (71-65) with 3:50 minutes remaining.
However, the hosts wouldn’t score again in regulation and Jerusalem forced overtime.
Adam Ariel’s triple to open the extra period gave Hapoel the edge, but Rishon would score the next four points, with Swann’s basket putting Sharon Drucker’s side back in front (75- 74). Nevertheless, Jerusalem would have the final laugh, netting five points in a row, with Yaniv Green of all players clinching the win from the foul line with 28 seconds remaining.
There was very little to separate the teams throughout the first half in Haifa, with Gilboa taking a one-point edge (39-38) into the break.
Haifa had a four-point advantage going into the final 10 minutes (58-54) and it would secure the win at the start of the fourth frame.
The Greens held Gilboa to a single point in the first five minutes of the quarter, scoring nine of the first 10 points of the period to open a 12-point gap (67-55) which the visitors never came close to erasing.
Will Graves had 24 points and nine rebounds for Haifa, with Alex Young finishing with 21 points for Gilboa.
Eilat reached the semis by knocking out the final National League team in the draw, beating Elitzur Barak Netanya 96-85 on the road.
Netanya gave Eilat a fight in the first half, trailing by a mere six points (53-47) entering the interval. However, an 11-0 run to end the third quarter effectively clinched the win for the visitors, opening a 16-point gap (78-62).
Adrian Uter paced Eilat with 20 points and 10 rebounds, while Herb Pope finished with 30 points and 11 boards for Netanya.