A career night by Amit Simhon led Hapoel Gilboa/Galil to a shock 75-71 victory over Maccabi Tel Aviv at Gan Ner on Wednesday night, leveling the best-of-five BSL quarterfinal series at 1-1.
Maccabi eked out a 99-93 win in a tighter-than-expected Game 1 at Nokia Arena last week of what was supposed to be a one-sided series between the No. 1 and No. 8 seeds.
Gilboa gave the yellow-and-blue a run for its money throughout Game 2 as well, but this time was also the more composed side in the final minutes and clinched a surprise win, thanks in large to Simhon.
The 24-year-old Israeli forward tied his career high with 20 points, including a dagger three-pointer with 28 seconds to play which opened a gamehigh eight-point gap (73-65) and secured the victory.
“We came to fight in the first game as well, but tonight we played much better defense and I’m very happy we claimed the win,” said Simhon. “I got my chance at Gilboa this year and I’m happy I have managed to repay coach Sharon Drucker. We believe we can win the series. We wouldn’t show up for the games if we didn’t.”
Gerald Robinson added 17 points for Gilboa, with Tony Younger scoring 15. David Blu had 19 points for Maccabi, which hosts Game 3 at Nokia Arena on Saturday.
Game 2 in the three other BSL quarterfinals will be played on Thursday.
Hapoel Jerusalem visits Hapoel Holon, hoping to build on its tight home victory in the series opener.
“This is going to be a tense encounter,” said Jerusalem coach Brad Greenberg. “There are several things we want to improve on from Game 1. We played well on defense in the second half at Malha, but we want to be solid on the defensive side throughout Game 2.
“I’m sure Holon will be especially motivated in front of its fans.”
Hapoel Tel Aviv aims to snatch back home-court advantage when it travels down south to face Hapoel Eilat on Thursday. Eilat outplayed Hapoel in a 98-82 triumph at Hadar Yosef Arena last week, leaving coach Erez Edelstein fuming.
“This is not how you play in the playoffs,” he said after the humbling defeat in Game 1.
“Under no circumstances can we allow Eilat to score 62 percent of its attempts from twopoint range. Eilat was the better team and if we let them do as they please this is what happens. We will have to return to our bread and butter.”
Also Thursday, Ironi Ness Ziona hosts Maccabi Haifa, looking to tie the series after suffering a 78-67 loss at Romema Arena in Game 1.
Earlier Wednesday, Maccabi Tel Aviv assistant coach Guy Goodes was named as the assistant coach of the Israel national team. Goodes will work under Erez Edelstein after serving as the assistant coach of the Great Britain national side at last summer’s EuroBasket tournament.