Hapoel Jerusalem will need to overcome bitter rival Hapoel Holon to reach the
BSL Final Four after losing its final regular season game on Sunday night 89-80
to Maccabi Tel Aviv at Malha Arena.
Jerusalem required a victory over Tel
Aviv as well as a Ironi Ashkelon win against Maccabi Rishon Lezion to climb to
third place in the standings. However, it got neither, being steamrolled in the
fourth quarter of its game by the yellow-and-blue before Rishon held on for a
62-61 home win over Ashkelon.
As a result, Jerusalem will be the No. 4
seed and will face Holon (5) with home-court advantage in the best-of-five
playoffs, while Rishon (3) will come up against Ashkelon (6).
other series’ were set last week, with Tel Aviv (1) to play BC Habika’a (8) and
Hapoel Gilboa/Galil (2) to face Maccabi Ashdod (7).
out of the gate on Sunday, opening a double-digit lead (26-15) with less than
two minutes to play in the first period.
However, Maccabi would end the
quarter with an 8-0 run, capped by a David Blu threepointer, and the hosts held
just a three-point margin (26-23).
Lior Eliyahu’s basket midway through
the second frame completed Tel Aviv’s comeback (31-29), but Yuval Naimi’s two
triples to end the first half gave the Jerusalem guard 17 points in the first 20
minutes and opened a four-point cushion (49-45) at the break.
Ohayon’s three-point play gave the yellow-and-blue the initiative (50-49) early
in the third period, but Ramel Bradley’s three capped a 12-0 Jerusalem surge
that put the hosts in the driving seat once more (62-54). Hapoel still had the
edge (67-60) going into the closing 10 minutes, but it was helpless in the final
Maccabi tightened its defense and clinched the win with a 23- 3
run to start the quarter.
Shawn James dominated under the basket at both
ends of the floor and Blu and Guy Pnini rained threes on the miserable hosts to
take Tel Aviv’s BSL winning streak to 11 games.
Devin Smith led Maccabi
with 25 points, while Pnini scored 15 against his former team.
it would be a hard game and it just took us some time to find our rhythm,” said
Smith, who is looking in ominous form ahead of the Adriatic League Final Four at
Nokia Arena this coming weekend. “In the end we made some defensive stops
and came away with the right plays at the right time.”
Yuval Naimi had 22
points for Jerusalem, with D.J. Strawberry adding 17 points.
between Rishon and Ashkelon will be tighter than expected should it unfold like
Sunday’s meeting between the two, with Rishon only barely eking out a
Adrian Uter had 13 points for Rishon, with Marco Killingsworth
contributing 15 points and 10 boards for Ashkelon.
Also Sunday, Maccabi
Ashdod snapped a two-game losing streak and gathered momentum ahead of the
playoffs with a 96-93 win over Bnei Hasharon.