Maccabi Tel Aviv’s Brian Randle.
(photo credit: ADI AVISHAI)
After pushing Maccabi Tel Aviv for most of Game 1 of the BSL semifinals, and with the yellow-and-blue without its best player in Devin Smith, Hapoel Eilat knows Sunday’s Game 2 at home provides it with an ideal opportunity to level the best-of-five series.
Jeremy Pargo ensured Maccabi got the semis off to a winning start last Wednesday, scoring 32 points in a 91-82 victory at Yad Eliyahu Arena.
Maccabi showed plenty of rust after 10 days without a game, but pulled ahead thanks to Pargo’s 13 points in the third quarter to take a 1-0 lead.
However, Maccabi lost star forward Smith for at least Games 2 and 3 after he was ruled out for 10 days on Thursday due to a thigh injury.
The yellow-and-blue is already without forwards Guy Pnini and Sylven Landesberg for the rest of the season, meaning coach Guy Goodes will have to rely on the likes of Nate Linhart and Marques Haynes on Sunday.
“We are facing a tough road game in a tough arena against a very good team,” said Goodes.
“Everyone will need to help make up for Smith’s absence. We will need to register fewer turnovers than in Game 1 and make sure we are sharp throughout the game.”
Eilat coach Arik Shivek feels the fate of the game is in his team’s control.
“Clearly this is the most important game of the series for us,” said Shivek. “We will make adjustments from Game 1. Even without Smith, Maccabi is a very strong team. We can’t allow how close we came in Game 1 to go to our heads.”
Game 2 in the semifinal series between Hapoel Jerusalem and Maccabi Rishon Lezion will be held in Rishon on Monday. Jerusalem, which leads the series 1-0, is already well into its preparations for next season, with American center Yancy Gates, who played for Hapoel Tel Aviv this season, set to join the club, while Maccabi big man Alex Tyus is also high on the wanted list.