Maccabi Haifa maintained its perfect start to the BSL playoffs on Sunday night
with an 87-75 victory over Hapoel Eilat at Romema Arena in Game 1 of the
best-of-five semifinal series.
Haifa swept Hapoel Gilboa/Galil 3-0 in the
quarterfinals and hit the ground running on Sunday, beginning the night with a
9-0 run and ending the first quarter with a 16-0 surge to open a 21-point margin
(29- 8) from which Eilat couldn’t recover.
”I’m very satisfied,” said
Haifa coach Brad Greenberg. “We did a good job but we need to keep working on
our game ahead of Game 2.
I’ll take a performance like this any
Donta Smith led five Haifa players in double-figures with 19
points, seven assists and six rebounds, with Gal Mekel ending the night with 17
points, six assists and five boards and Pat Calathes contributing 17 points and
”We were very sharp at the start of the game. I can’t
remember a quarter in which we played with such intensity,” said Mekel. “But as
the cliché goes, this was just one game and we have already turned our focus to
Afik Nissim had 16 points for Eilat, which hosts Game 2 on
”This game just proves that sometimes talking about
things isn’t sufficient,” said Eilat coach Oded Katash.
“They killed us
on the fast-break and the first quarter buried us. We have been talking about
their open-court game since we advanced to the semis, but my players clearly
didn’t understand it. We have dug ourselves a hole, but this is just one game.
We will return to our home court and fans on Wednesday and we will be
A Mekel three-pointer gave the hosts a quick nine-point gap (9-0)
and Eilat looked shell-shocked after Chanan Colman’s triple at the end of the
first frame (29-8).
Eilat managed to close to within 14 points (43-29) by
the break and a Scotty Hopson dunk brought the visitors within just six points
with six minutes to play in the third quarter (70-64).
southerners would come no closer, with Haifa scoring the next nine points to
reestablish a double-digit cushion and take a 1-0 lead in the
Today, Maccabi Tel Aviv hosts Hapoel Jerusalem in Game 1 of their
semifinal series at Nokia Arena. Tensions between the two arch-rivals grew in
the past week over the services of forward Josh Duncan. Reports last week
connected the Jerusalem player with a move to Maccabi next season, angering
Hapoel officials. Maccabi vehemently denied making any contact with Duncan or
his representatives, but that didn’t stop Jerusalem chairman Jacob Liraz from
attacking the yellow-and-blue, claiming that Maccabi leaked the story on
On court, Maccabi enters the series as a firm favorite after
sweeping Hapoel Tel Aviv 3-0 in the quarterfinals.
Jerusalem was pushed
to a fifth game by Barak Netanya, but triumphed on the road in the decisive
contest to reach the last four. While the fate of the series seems to depend
solely on Maccabi, Hapoel can draw some encouragement from beating Tel Aviv at
Nokia in their most recent meeting earlier this month.
”We haven’t played
in a while and that is something we will have to find a solution for,” said Tel
Aviv coach David Blatt, who has an amazing 25-0 record in the playoffs at
“Jerusalem has experienced plenty of highs and lows this season,
but it certainly has many weapons and has a quality roster.”