One of the key matchups in the BSL quarterfinal series between Hapoel Jerusalem and Hapoel Tel Aviv.
(photo credit: DANNY MARON)
Maccabi Tel Aviv and Hapoel Eilat can already secure their progress to the BSL Final Four on Thursday night, but it is the third chapter in the fascinating quarterfinal series between No. 1 seed Hapoel Jerusalem and No. 8 Hapoel Tel Aviv which will garner most of the attention.
Hapoel Tel Aviv tied the bestof- five series at 1-1 on Sunday, claiming a nerve-wracking 87-85 win at the Drive-In Arena to snap the defending champion’s 13-game winning streak.
Raviv Limonad scored the winning basket for Tel Aviv with 2.1 seconds to play after Jerusalem had erased an 18-point gap in the final six minutes to tie the score.
Jerusalem claimed a dramatic overtime win in Game 1 at home despite a stunning 46-point performance by Nate Robinson.
The three-time NBA dunk champion only scored nine points on Sunday, but Tel Aviv finally managed to eke out a win over Jerusalem.
Tel Aviv had lost its previous four meetings with Jerusalem this season, including all three regular season encounters, although it fell only by a combined 10 points.
“We deserved this blow,” said Jerusalem coach Danny Franco. “We didn’t play with a playoff attitude. When you allow 56 points in the first half that is not playoff basketball. Tel Aviv deserves every credit for giving us a hard time and we need to learn our lesson.”
Tel Aviv coach Sharon Avrahami is confident his team can go on and win the series.
“We are playing a team that the cost of one of its players is like our entire budget. They thrashed every team over the past three months and I hope we get the credit we deserve for this win.
“I told the players that we are going to Jerusalem not to steal a game, but to win a game,” he added. “We have played five tight games with them so far this season so clearly there is something in our match-up which causes them problems.
We need to remain humble.
“I don’t think that anyone gave us a chance in this series, but I always said that even though we are the underdog I believe in our chances. The pressure will be on Jerusalem in Game 3.”
Game 4 will be played in Tel Aviv next Sunday. If necessary, Game 5 will take place in Jerusalem next Wednesday.
Elsewhere, No. 2 Tel Aviv hosts No. 7 Bnei Herzliya in Game 3 on Thursday after cruising to a 68-51 road victory on Monday. No. 5 Eilat visits No. 4 Ironi Nahariya following its 80-77 win in Game 2. No. 6 Maccabi Rishon Lezion also holds a 2-0 lead over No. 3 Maccabi Haifa, which hosts Game 3 on Friday.
Only two teams have ever come back from a 0-2 deficit in BSL playoff history.