Maccabi Tel Aviv easily advanced to the semifinals of the State Cup on Sunday
night, but there were mainly worried faces on the yellowand- blue bench at the
end of the 93-77 victory over Hapoel Holon at Nokia Arena after star forward
Lior Eliyahu twisted his knee badly in the first half.
Eliyahu left the
court in tears, hobbling on his right foot with the help of the medical staff
after crashing to the floor and agonizingly clutching his left knee.
early assessment by the Maccabi medical staff was that Eliyahu likely only
strained his knee ligaments and didn’t suffer a tear, but the full extent of the
injury was only confirmed by an MRI late Sunday night.
Maccabi will have to manage without Eliyahu for Tuesday’s cup semi against
Maccabi Ashdod, which beat Maccabi Be’er Ya’akov 104-88 on Sunday.
did a good job tonight when you take into account that we had no time to prepare
for the game and that we lost Lior the way we did,” said Tel Aviv coach David
“An injury like that could have paralyzed the team, but the guys
stepped up superbly and dealt with it very well. I’m really encouraged by our
Maccabi needed just twoand- a-half minutes to open
an 11-1 gap over Holon, which was playing without Sean Daniel, who was banned by
FIBA for six months after failing a doping test due to his use of
A Jerome Dyson dunk brought Holon back within four points
(21-17) late in the first quarter, but a Nik-Caner Medley three-pointer to end
the period took the gap back to seven points.
Holon closed to within five
points (32-27) in the second frame, but Maccabi surged into a 49-35 margin by
the break despite Eliyahu’s injury, which could have major implications on the
remainder of the yellow-and-blue’s season.
Sylven Landesberg ended the
game with 22 points, with Ricky Hickman scoring 19 and Shawn James adding 11
points, eight rebounds and seven blocks.
Frank Hassell had 25 points and
16 rebounds for Holon.
Ashdod had little trouble against the last
National League representative in the competition, effectively clinching the win
over Be’er Ya’akov by halftime.
The visitors scored nine of the first 11
points of the night and were in complete control after taking a 20-7 gap with a
9-0 run, capped by an Igor Simin basket.
The second half was a formality
after Ashdod took a 54-40 margin into the break and Ofer Berkowitz’s team will
face Tel Aviv in the cup semis for the second time in three years.
Freeman led Ashdod with 19 points, with Diamon Simpson scoring 18.
Alexander had 25 points for the hosts, with Jermaine Hall adding 21
Blatt is expecting a tough challenge from Ashdod on
“Ashdod has raised its level in recent weeks after making
changes to its roster,” he said.
“This isn’t an easy game for us without
Eliyahu, but we are the reigning cup holder and we want to keep it that
Tel Aviv will face Ashdod in the first semi on Tuesday, with Hapoel
Jerusalem and Maccabi Haifa, who won their quarterfinals on Saturday, to
face-off in the second semifinal of the night at Nokia.
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