Raviv Limonad .
(photo credit: ADI AVISHAI)
Hapoel Jerusalem will face Hapoel Tel Aviv in the highlight of the BSL quarterfinal playoffs after a tense last day of action to the regular season.
All eight playoff berths were already snapped up ahead of Sunday, with the relegation battle also being decided. However, there was still plenty on the line, including 16 different scenarios in the fight for post-season seeding.
Maccabi Tel Aviv and Hapoel Jerusalem had wrapped up the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds last week but only discovered on Sunday who they will face in the quarters.
Maccabi will play Ironi Ness Ziona, while Jerusalem will be up against Hapoel Tel Aviv.
Despite its recent struggles, Maccabi will be a firm favorite to sweep Ness Ziona, but the in-form Jerusalem is expected to face a far tougher test against Oded Katash’s Hapoel Tel Aviv, which beat Bnei Herzliya 86-80 on Sunday.
Herzliya, which knew it would end the season in ninth place regardless of Sunday’s result, took a three-point gap into the final 10 minutes.
However, Hapoel had the better of the final minutes and could give Jerusalem a real run for its money in the quarters.
Yancy Gates had 24 points and eight rebounds for Tel Aviv, with Julian Wright finishing with 15 points and 11 boards for Herzliya.
Five teams entered the day with a chance of finishing in third or fourth places, which also guarantee home-court advantage in the best-of-five quarterfinals.
Maccabi Rishon Lezion and Hapoel Holon had their fate in their own hands, but the former suffered a shock 94-88 loss to the already relegated Hapoel Gilboa/Galil and dropped to sixth place.
Alex Young scored 30 points for Gilboa, with Shawn Dowson netting 22 points for Rishon.
Holon lost 82-81 to Maccabi Haifa, but still moved up to third and will play Rishon in the last eight. Dagan Yavzuri led Haifa with 14 points, with Sean Evans finishing with 17 points and 12 rebounds for Holon.
Hapoel Eilat leapfrogged up to fourth and will play Haifa next after claiming an 88-83 win at Ness Ziona. Amit Simhon paced Eilat with 26 points, with Lamayn Wilson scoring 22 points for Ness Ziona.
Maccabi Tel Aviv and Hapoel Jerusalem both ended the regular season with meaningless wins on Sunday. Maccabi made it three victories in five days, beating Maccabi Ashdod 100-89.
Devin Smith led six Maccabi players in double figures with 23 points, while Ivan Aska had 27 points and 10 rebounds for Ashdod, which ended the season in 11th place.
Jerusalem recorded its 15th win from the past 17 games, defeating Ironi Nahariya 83-65. Dion Thompson scored 22 points for Jerusalem, with Mark Lyons having 20 points for Nahariya, which finished its campaign in 10th place.
The playoffs will begin on Saturday night, with the quarters to run until June 1 if necessary.
The best-of-five semifinals will get underway on June 4, with the two-legged final to start on June 22.