Maccabi Haifa forward Amit Simhon (center) scored 16 points in last night’s 79-63 win over Maccabi Tel Aviv and Guy Pnini at Yad Eliyahu Arena.
(photo credit: ADI AVISHAI)
After taking the opening contest of the BSL quarterfinals with a win in a double-overtime, instant-classic Game 1, No. 1 seed Hapoel Holon visits Maccabi Haifa on Saturday night aiming to move within one victory of a place in the Final Four.
Holon trailed for much of the fourth quarter against No. 8 Haifa, which needed a win in the final game of the regular season to qualify for the playoffs.
Holon survived scares at the end of regulation and the first overtime when Haifa squandered opportunities to clinch the win.
Guard Tu Holloway, who only joined the team in February following Khalif Wyatt’s season-ending knee surgery, carried the hosts with 34 points, scoring 11 of his side’s 20 points in the extra periods on the way to a 104-99 victory.
“My team called my number and I had to answer the call,” said Holloway, who has scored in double figures in 14 of 16 games since joining Holon, averaging 15.3 points per game in the regular season.
“Big players make a name for themselves in big games. Now it is the playoffs and I feel it is my time to run the show and be the player I can be.”
Holon coach Dan Shamir, who guided the team to the best record in the regular season despite a string of injuries to key players, wants his players to forget about the dramatic Game 1 triumph and completely focus on the upcoming encounter.
“We have only done a third of the job,” explained Shamir. “We need to recharge and try and get another win on Saturday. This is the stage of the season in which teams define themselves.”
The playoffs continue on Sunday when Maccabi Tel Aviv (4) brings a 1-0 lead to Game 2 at Bnei Herzliya (5), while Maccabi Rishon Lezion (7) looks to level its series against Eilat (2) when it hosts the southerners.
Hapoel Jerusalem (3), which was the only team to lose at home in Game 1, looks to rebound from Scotty Hopson’s buzzer-beating three-pointer for Ironi Nahariya (6) when it goes up North for Game 2 on Monday.