Maccabi Haifa's Gal Mekel 370.
(photo credit: Lilach Weis/BSL)
Maccabi Haifa moved to within a single win of the BSL playoff final on Wednesday
night after claiming an emphatically impressive 105-84 victory at Hapoel Eilat
to take a 2-0 lead in the best-of-five semifinal series.
Eilat vowed to
fight back after being outplayed in an 87-75 road defeat in the series opener.
However, Haifa dominated Oded Katash’s side for a second time in four days on
Wednesday and will be extremely confident of closing out the series when it
hosts Game 3 on Sunday.
After outscoring Eilat by 21 points (29-8) in the
first quarter earlier this week, Haifa blitzed the southerners yet again in Game
2, opening the night with a 15-0 run from which the hosts never
“We played very well,” said Haifa coach Brad Greenberg. “We
got a great start again. We played a good team and I’m really proud of how we
However, Greenberg was adamant that the series is far from
“My guys know this is a very good team,” he added. “We’ve played
two games and played very well, but when we tip off in three days it will be
0-0. We don’t want to come back to Eilat again. They are a very good team and
they will want to keep their season going.
They are going to come at us
Donta Smith had 21 points for Haifa, which can complete its
second straight sweep with a victory on Sunday. Gal Mekel added 18 points and 13
assists, while Pat Calathes contributed 18 points and 15 rebounds.
Stoll scored 17 for the Greens, who maintained a doubledigit gap throughout the
night after getting off to a fast start.
Afik Nissim had 21 points for a
dispirited Eilat team, which played without star Scotty Hopson, who was cut from
the roster for Wednesday’s game by coach Katash.
“I don’t think that
missing Hopson was our problem,” said Katash.
“We allowed 105 points at
home in Game 2 of the playoff semis and that is something which shouldn’t happen
regardless of who is on court. We promised ourselves that there wouldn’t be a
repeat of what unfolded in Haifa, but that is exactly what happened.
will need to channel all our energy to Game 3 to ensure we don’t end our season
Hapoel Jerusalem hosts Maccabi Tel Aviv in Game 2 of their
semifinal series at Malha Arena on Thursday, hoping to bounce back after losing
the series opener 91-73 at Nokia Arena.
Jerusalem limited Maccabi to just
38 points in the first half, but the yellow-and-blue wouldn’t be denied after
the break and improved to a 22-3 record over Hapoel in the playoffs.
didn’t start the game very well, but that is something that can happen and I’m
happy that we managed to surge ahead in the second half,” said Maccabi forward
Lior Eliyahu, who led his team in Game 1 with 22 points.
there’s no doubt that the game in Malha will be a completely different story and
Maccabi coach David Blatt doesn’t believe the series opener
will affect the outcome of Game 2 in any way.
“This is the playoffs and
we need to play 40 good minutes to win,” said Blatt, who has a 26-0 record in
the playoffs at Maccabi. “We need to be focused and play with the right
intensity. We executed our plays well in Game 1 and hopefully we can keep it
Jerusalem committed 20 turnovers in Game 1 and veteran playmaker
Meir Tapiro knows Hapoel will have to be far more composed to have any chance of
leveling the series.
“Maccabi seized the momentum at the end of the first
half after we turned over the ball three times and our lack of concentration
gave them the initiative,” Tapiro said.
“You can’t afford to make
mistakes against Maccabi because they always punish you.
“We need to
collect ourselves ahead of Game 2. We must be strong mentally because Maccabi
has plenty of experience and will be firing on all cylinders.”