Maccabi Tel Aviv guard Yogev Ohayon (right) drives past Hapoel Gilboa/Galil’s Murphy Holloway during last night’s 77-76 win at Yad Eliyahu Arena..
(photo credit: ADI AVISHAI)
Maccabi Tel Aviv breathed a huge sigh of relief on Sunday night, surviving a mighty scare to beat Hapoel Gilboa/Galil 77-76 at Yad Eliyahu Arena to advance to the quarterfinals of the State Cup.
For the second time in less than two months, Maccabi is trying to pick up the pieces following the departure of its head coach, with Rami Hadar’s short tenure coming to an end on Friday when he resigned a day after the humiliating 83-58 loss at Red Star Belgrade.
That loss came on the back of a surprise BSL setback against Gilboa, which came centimeters away from sending the yellowand- blue packing from the cup on Sunday. Jason Sigers, who scored the winning basket at the buzzer last week, had a chance to clinch another memorable victory at Yad Eliyahu, but his shot bounced out off the rim and Tel Aviv held on for the precious victory.
Maccabi, which was guided by assistant coach Lior Lubin, is hoping to have a new full-time head coach by the time it hosts reigning European champion CS KA Moscow in Euroleague action on Wednesday, with the yellow-and-blue also facing a tricky visit to David Blatt’s Darussafaka in Istanbul on Friday.
After meeting on Saturday night, Maccabi’s board decided to target a foreign coach, with the two top candidates being 56-yearold Lithuanian Rimas Kurtinaitis and Italian Sergio Scariolo, the coach of the Spain national team.
Maccabi is believed to have several other options from abroad, but should they all fall through it will target a local name, with Tzvika Sherf and Sharon Drucker among the names being mentioned.
Sonny Weems had 20 points for Maccabi on Sunday, with Victor Rudd scoring 16. Ezequiel Skverer finished with 16 points for the dejected Gilboa.
Maccabi opened a double-digit gap (35-25) midway through the second period, but Gilboa closed within three points (41-38) by the break and tied the score at the start of the third quarter.
The game was still wide open entering the final 10 minutes, with the hosts holding a fourpoint advantage (63-59).
Skverer’s three brought Gilboa within a single point with 1:40 minutes to play (75-74) and Sigers’s jumper tied the score (76- 76) with 37.3 seconds remaining.
However, his game would end in heartbreak after he missed at the buzzer.
Earlier Sunday, Hapoel Beersheba of the National League stunned reigning BSL champion Maccabi Rishon Lezion 104-96, meaning there will be two teams from the second division in the quarterfinals for the first time since 2012.
Ironi Ness Ziona surprised Ironi Nahariya 76-66 on Saturday.
Jeff Allen had 29 points and nine rebounds for Beersheba, with Nimrod Levy scoring 20 points for Rishon.
Maccabi Haifa booked its place in the last eight with ease, crushing Elitzur Kiryat Ata of the National League 91-54. Orlando Mendez-Valdez had 27 points for Haifa, with Sir’Dominic Pointer finishing with 17 points and 11 boards for Kiryat Ata.
Maccabi Tel Aviv, Haifa and Beersheba joined Maccabi Ashdod, Ness Ziona, Hapoel Jerusalem and Bnei Herzliya in Monday’s quarterfinal draw. The final quarterfinalist will be decided in Monday’s game between Hapoel Holon and Hapoel Eilat.