BRYANT DUNSTON 370.
(photo credit:Asaf Kliger)
Maccabi Tel Aviv became the first team to advance to the BSL Final Four on
Thursday night, but the remaining three tickets remain up for grabs after Hapoel
Gilboa/Galil and Maccabi Rishon Lezion avoided elimination with home
Tel Aviv cruised to a 3-0 sweep of BC Habika’a, crushing Avi
Ashkenazi’s team 86-59 at Nokia Arena on Thursday after winning Games 1 and 2 by
23 and 35 points, respectively.
No Israeli team has ever come back from
2-0 down to win a playoff series, but Gilboa and Rishon Lezion will be confident
of becoming the first next week after defeating Maccabi Ashdod and Ironi
Gilboa, which ended the regular season in second
place, beat Ashdod 74-60 in Gan Ner, while Rishon, the No. 3 seed, defeated
Also Thursday, Hapoel Holon snatched home-court advantage
with a 70-65 victory over Hapoel Jerusalem at Malha Arena, taking a 2-1
Like Ashdod and Ashkelon, Holon will look to close out the series
at home on Sunday.
At Nokia, Tel Aviv initially allowed Habika’a to stay
within touching distance, but the hosts scored 21 of the final 28 points of the
first half to take a 44-32 margin into the break.
A Dion Dowell
three-pointer brought Habika’a within two points late in the third period
(53-51), but Maccabi ended the third quarter with a quick 12-0 run and the final
10 minutes were used by coach David Blatt to give the likes of youth players
Idan Zalmanson and Arad Harari court time.
Richard Hendrix had 16 points
nine rebounds for Maccabi, which will face the winner of the series between
Jerusalem and Holon in the Final Four semifinals.
Devin Smith and Guy
Pnini added 14 points each for Tel Aviv, with Dowell netting 13 for
Gilboa opened a 27-17 lead early in the second quarter with a
14-0 surge in Gan Ner, but Ashdod came right back and trailed by just three
points at halftime (38-35).
The hosts still had the edge with 10 minutes
to play (49-48) and began the fourth frame with a game-winning 17-2
Romeo Travis led Gilboa with 23 points and 11 boards, with Courtney
Fells scoring 15.
Meir Tapiro had 11 points, nine assists and eight
rebounds for Ashdod.
Or Solomon’s three-pointer gave Rishon a 27-26 lead
against Ashkelon after 10 minutes and Adrian Uter capped a 19-5 run which opened
an 11-point gap (43-32).
Effi Birenboim’s men took a 49-41 advantage into
the second half and eventually secured the win with a fourth quarter
Derwin Kitchen had 23 points, eight rebounds and six assists for
Rishon, with Joe Crawford contributing 21 points and nine boards.
Skeen had 18 points and 12 rebounds for Ashkelon.
At Malha, a 13-0 run
gave Jerusalem a 26-19 gap, which soon reached doubledigits (31-21).
hosts were still in pole position at the break (40-31), but an 18-3 run saw
Holon seize control (49-44).
The visitors still had the edge (51-48) with
10 minutes remaining and extended the margin to 65-55 with four minutes to play
after a Patrick Sullivan lay-up.
However, the game was far from over,
with Jerusalem going on a 9-0 run, capped by an Uri Kukia basket, to close
within a single point (65-64) with 56 seconds to play.
Bradley missed a chance to complete the comeback when he missed an open jumper
with 30 seconds to play and Holon eked out the win from the free-throw
Tasmin Mitchell had 17 points and nine rebounds for Holon, with Ron
Lewis adding 16.
Kukia led Jerusalem with 14 points and 12 boards.
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