Maccabi Tel Aviv swingman Sylven Landesberg scored five late points to ensure his team edged Ironi Ness Ziona 75-73 in last night’s State Cup quarterfinal..
(photo credit: ADI AVISHAI)
Maccabi Tel Aviv got 2017 off to a winning start, but only barely avoided a shock exit in the State Cup quarterfinals, beating Ironi Ness Ziona of the National League 75-73.
Maccabi, which is targeting its eighth straight State Cup triumph, squandered a 16-point lead and found itself trailing by seven points entering the final five minutes. Ness Ziona couldn’t complete the upset though, with Maccabi going on an 8-0 run and eventually holding on for a dramatic win over an opponent which can only play with two foreigners according to National League regulations and has a budget lower than what the yellow-and-blue pays a single player.
“Some of our players came to this arena like they were on a vacation,” said Maccabi’s furious coach Ainars Bagatskis. “Some of the players just look at their statistics.”
Andrew Goudelock and Colton Iverson had 14 points each for Maccabi, with Billy McShepard finishing with 18 points and 14 rebounds for Ness Ziona.
Maccabi, which has lost a club record six straight Euroleague games, has three days to register a significant improvement, with David Blatt’s Darussafaka visiting Yad Eliyahu Arena in continental action on Thursday.
“The most important thing is that we won the game, but we played good basketball maybe for 12-14 minutes,” added Bagatskis.
“The rest of the time we expected them to give up. We played soft and everybody saw that.
If we have self-respect we will have to change something for our next game. With the quality we showed today we don’t have any chance in the Euroleague. If we bring the aggressiveness we showed in the last two practices to the game we can beat anyone.
If we play like in the last 26 minutes here we should retire from basketball.”
Maccabi didn’t need long to open a double-digit margin (15-5), but Ness Ziona never lost hope, closing within six points (23-17) by the end of the third quarter.
Tel Aviv remained in control, leading by as many as 16 points (42-26) before taking what seemed like a comfortable 12-point cushion (42-30) into the break.
But there seems to be no lead that this season’s Maccabi can’t lose, with Ness Ziona dominating the third frame, taking its first lead of the night (49-48) following a McShepard basket.
Ness Ziona had a two-point edge (56-54) entering the final quarter and held a seven-point lead (65-58) with five minutes to play. But Maccabi replied with an 8-0 surge in less than two minutes, with Goudelock’s three-pointer giving the yellowand- blue a 66-65 advantage.
Golan Got’s triple at the other end meant Ness Ziona took a two-point lead into the final two minutes, but five straight points by Sylven Landesberg moved Maccabi back in front for good.
Ness Ziona still had a chance to force overtime, but Got’s threepoint attempt in the final seconds was short and Maccabi held on for a precious victory, joining Hapoel Jerusalem and Maccabi Ashdod in the semifinals.
The final semifinalist will be decided on Tuesday when Hapoel Beersheba of the National League hosts Hapoel Holon.