Maccabi Tel Aviv hopes to progress to the BSL semifinals on Monday night ahead of this weekend’s Euroleague Final Four, while Hapoel Eilat aims to become the only team to complete a sweep in the quarterfinals.
Maccabi, seeded No. 1 in the playoffs, visits Hapoel Gilboa/ Galil (8) in Game 4 of the best-of-five series in Gan Ner, with Eilat (5) facing Hapoel Tel Aviv (4) at Hadar Yosef Arena in Game 3 of their series after dominating the first two encounters.
Two more Game 3’s will be held on Monday, with Hapoel Jerusalem (2) hosting Hapoel Holon (7) and Maccabi Haifa (3) welcoming Ironi Ness Ziona (6). Both series are tied at 1-1.
After suffering a shock defeat in Gan Ner in Game 2 last week, Maccabi bounced back to record an emphatic 93-67 win on Saturday to move within a single victory of the semis. The yellowand- blue will be desperate to wrap up the series on Monday and finally turn its full focus to Friday’s Final Four semifinal against CSKA Moscow in Milano.
Maccabi will want to board its flight to Italy on Wednesday morning with a clear mind, as should it lose in Gan Ner it would face a decisive Game 5 against Gilboa at Nokia Arena next Tuesday, the day after its return from Milano.
“The difference between our last two games was passion and concentration,” explained Maccabi coach David Blatt, who urged his players to focus only on Game 4 against Gilboa.
In the past five seasons, the No. 5 seed has knocked out the No. 4 in the quarterfinals and Eilat looks set to extend that streak after opening a 2-0 lead over Hapoel Tel Aviv.
Eilat has outplayed Hapoel in the series so far, but Tel Aviv will be determined to at least avoid the embarrassment of being swept on its home floor with a win on Monday.
Tel Aviv will need to register an extremely rare comeback to reach the semis, with only two teams managing to erase a 0-2 deficit in a best-of-five series in Israel since the playoff format was introduced in the 1989/90 season.
Jerusalem and Holon have split the first two games of their series, which has been surprisingly tight so far. The home team ultimately eked out a victory in Games 1 and 2, a trend Jerusalem will be aiming to continue at Malha Arena on Monday.
Haifa hopes to rebound from a 20-point humbling at Ness Ziona in Game 2 last week when it hosts the third game of the series at Romema Arena on Monday.