Hapoel Jerusalem, Maccabi Haifa and Hapoel Eilat all hope to convert 2-1 leads to series victories and secure their progress to the BSL semifinals on Thursday night, while Hapoel Holon, Ironi Ness Ziona and Hapoel Tel Aviv all aim to stave off elimination and force a decisive Game 5 in the quarterfinals.
Jerusalem and Haifa both require road wins after losing at Holon and Ness Ziona, respectively, last week, with Eilat to host Tel Aviv in Game 4 following its victory at Hadar Yosef Arena in the series opener.
The series between No. 2 seed Jerusalem and No. 7 Holon has been far tighter than expected, with all three games being decided by seven points or less.
Jerusalem beat Holon 85-78 in Game 3 at Malha Arena, but it was held to just 75 points on the road in Game 2 and will likely need to improve on that to avoid a Game 5 at Malha next week.
“We are capable of playing better and we want to do that in Holon,” said Jerusalem coach Brad Greenberg after the victory in Game 3.
Holon coach Elad Hasin remains confident regarding his team’s chances, even though his side is looking to become just the third No. 7 seed in history to knock out a No. 2 seed.
“Jerusalem deserves credit for playing well, but we need to play better defense and play harder,” Hasin said. “This series isn’t over yet. It has only started.”
The home teams have so far dominated the series between Haifa and Ness Ziona. Haifa won Games 1 and 3 by an average 14 points, while Ness Ziona triumphed by 20 points in Game 2. Ness Ziona aims to continue the trend on Thursday, while the defending champion hopes to finally beat Nadav Zilberstein’s team on the road on the third time of asking.
Hapoel Tel Aviv avoided a sweep by crushing Eilat by 21 points (98-77) in Game 3 at Hadar Yosef on Monday.
Tel Aviv was outplayed in the first two encounters of the series, but it has renewed confidence following its latest win and believes it can send the series to a Game 5 on its home floor with a victory in Israel’s southernmost city on Thursday.
“Eilat didn’t steal home-court advantage in the first game, it just took it without resistance,” said Tel Aviv coach Erez Edelstein.
“We needed the explosion in Game 3 and I hope that gives us confidence. Our fans deserve one more home game, but we will have to play even better in Game 4 for that to happen.”
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