Hapoel Jerusalem’s Yogev Ohayon (R) and Maccabi Rishon Lezion’s Diamon Simpson (L).
(photo credit: DANNY MARON)
Hapoel Jerusalem punched its ticket to Thursday’s Israel State Cup Final with a dominating 91-77 semifinal win over defending Cup holder Hapoel Holon on Monday night in the capital.
The Reds were firing on all cylinders out of the gate in their home arena, as J’Covan Brown and James Feldeine led the way with 22 and 21 points, respectively, while Tashawn Thomas added 14 points and nine rebounds in the win.
Corey Walden scored 15 points for Holon and veteran Guy Pnini chipped in with 13 points in the defeat.
Holon’s Pnini entered the contest looking to capture his 12th State Cup title and opened the scoring for his team with a three-pointer, but Jerusalem grabbed a 25-20 lead after 10 minutes, with as Brown scoring six points and Feldeine adding five points in the frame.
With the score 30-30 midway through the second quarter, Jerusalem went on a 15-5 run as Josh Owens provided some highlight dunks, and Brown punctuated the half with a last-second triple to give the Reds a 48-38 advantage after 20 minutes.
Jerusalem raced out to a 10-0 run after the break and took a 20-point lead (58-38) with Feldeine playing the catalyst, while Pnini picked up his fourth foul to the delight of the Jerusalem crowd.
The hosts continued to pour on the offense as Brown, Thomas and Feldeine gave Oded Katash’s side a 75-58 advantage heading into the fourth quarter.
The Reds continued to score off Holon turnovers and on fast-breaks in the final frame as they recorded the 14-point victory to earn its spot in the final.
Katash was all smiles following the victory.
“I’m happy with the win and I’m proud as to how we came into the game. We knew it wasn’t going to be easy as we played against a very good team that has plenty of dangerous weapons. But our work is only half done as we have to now get ready for Thursday’s final.”
Joining Jerusalem in the final was Maccabi Rishon Lezion, who won Monday’s first semifinal in an 86-70 result over Hapoel Tel Aviv.
Rishon LeZion was down by a point at halftime, but Alex Hamilton, Diamon Simpson and Cameron Long led Guy Goodes’s squad to the 16-point win with a dominating 25-12 final quarter.
Hamilton scored 23 points, Simpson added 22 points and 13 rebounds while Long chipped in 17 points and seven assists in the win.
Jerel McNeal led Hapoel with 18 points, Tomer Ginat scored 17 and Jamal Shuler ended the evening with 13 points in the loss.
Cup jitters got to both sides early with poor shooting over the first few minutes, but Hapoel Tel Aviv jumped out to a 14-7 lead as Ginat scored six points midway through the quarter.
However, Rishon stormed back by the end of the first frame, thanks to Hamilton’s nine points, to pull to within 14-13.
The intensity began to pick up in the second quarter and Hapoel regained the lead (31-27) as Alade Aminu drained a hook shot and McNeal drilled home a triple, forcing Goodes to call a timeout.
But Richard Howell picked up his third foul and had to sit for the majority of the first half and Simpson ratcheted up his play with 13 points in the second frame to help Rishon go into halftime down by just a point (38-37).
Simpson and Hamilton continued their fine play to give Rishon a 50-46 advantage with under five minutes remaining in the third quarter, which it held on to for a 61-58 lead heading into the decisive frame.
Five points by Adam Ariel extended the Rishon advantage to 71-64 in the fourth quarter, but the sharp-shooting Simpson fouled out
Despite the loss of the forward loss, Long and DeShawn Stephens stepped up and scored at will over the last few minutes to help Rishon take home the 86-70 win to book the wine city side’s place in Thursday’s final.
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