Hapoel Tel Aviv guard Nate Robinson.
(photo credit: DANNY MARON)
The BSL quarterfinal series between Hapoel Jerusalem and Hapoel Tel Aviv will come down to a fifth and decisive game on Wednesday night.
Tel Aviv tied the series at 2-2 on Sunday with a 93-84 win thanks to 25 points by Nate Robinson.
Jerusalem took a 2-1 lead with a 90-73 home win in Game 3 on Thursday and was aiming to secure its progress to the Final Four that will be played at its home arena. But after managing just 16 combined points in Games 2 and 3 following a 46-point performance in the series opener, Robinson found his range yet again on Sunday, ensuring Tel Aviv won its final home game at the Drive-In Arena.
“Now we have to go back to Jerusalem and steal one there,” said Robinson.
Jeff Allen added 18 points and 15 rebounds for Tel Aviv, with Eli Holman scoring 22 points for Jerusalem.
Raviv Limonad was a doubt for Game 4 after spraining his ankle in the fourth quarter of the previous contest, but he never had any intention of missing the encounter and he got off to a hot start despite requiring two pain-killing injections to play in the game.
Limonad’s first three-pointer of the night took his tally to nine points after less than eight minutes and gave the hosts a four-point lead (18-14).
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Tel Aviv led by as many as nine points (25-16), but Jerusalem reduced the gap to five (25-20) by the end of the first period. A tight second quarter ensued, with the hosts never trailing but also only taking a three-point edge (50-47) into the break.
Tony Gaffney’s triple to start the second half tied the game, but Jerusalem just couldn’t take the lead, with Tre Simmons and Robinson heating up to once more increase Tel Aviv’s advantage.
A Robinson three took the gap to double digits (72-61) with 1:45 minutes remaining and the hosts held a 10-point lead (74-64) entering the final 10 minutes. However, it took Tel Aviv more than three minutes to score its first points of the fourth frame and Jerusalem slowly ate away at the gap, with Rafi Menco tying the score for the visitors (75-75) midway through the quarter. The reigning champion yet again failed to complete the comeback though, with Tel Aviv scoring eight of the next 10 points. Robinson’s three made it a sixpoint game (83-77), a lead the hosts wouldn’t relinquish on the way to forcing a decisive fifth game.
Another Final Four ticket awaits the winner of the series between Maccabi Rishon Lezion and Maccabi Haifa, with Rishon looking to secure its place when it hosts Game 4 on Monday with a 2-1 lead. Maccabi Tel Aviv awaits the winner in the Final Four.
Haifa, which remained alive on Friday with an 83-66 win at Romema Arena, is aiming to become just the third team to fight back from a 0-2 deficit in BSL playoff history.
Haifa ended the regular season in third place thanks to its league-best defense, allowing 75.2 points per contest.
It held Rishon to just 71 points in Game 1, but could only score 69 on the way to a defeat in the series opener. Rishon claimed an 89-71 win at home in Game 2 after ending the night with a 19-4 run.
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