Maccabi Tel Aviv guard John DiBartolomeo (left picture) scored a team-high 18 points in his team’s 76-73 win over Maccabi Ashdod in the State Cup semifinals last night before Hapoel Holon’s Guy Pnini (right picture) netted 12 points in his side’s triumph over Hapoel Jerusalem in the second semi at Y.
(photo credit: ADI AVISHAI)
Maccabi Tel Aviv and Hapoel Holon will meet in Thursday’s State Cup final after coming through stern examinations in Monday’s semifinals at Yad Eliyahu Arena.
A 23-2 second-half run saw Holon open a 16-point gap (64-48) over Hapoel Jerusalem on the way to a hard-fought 76-67 victory. Glen Rice Jr. had 23 points, 10 rebounds and six assists for Holon, with Guy Pnini and Tu Holloway scoring 12 points each. Holon advanced to its first final since 2009 when it beat Maccabi Haifa for its one and only cup triumph.
That was also the last time a team not named Maccabi Tel Aviv lifted the title.
Tel Aviv survived a massive scare to advance to its ninth straight final, trailing for much of the game against Maccabi Ashdod. But a 12-0 fourth-quarter run would give the yellow-and-blue the lead for good, although the contest wouldn’t be decided until the final buzzer when Sek Henry’s three-point attempt went out off the rim and Tel Aviv held on for a 76-73 victory.
John DiBartolomeo led the winners with 18 points, helping to make up for a poor shooting night by fellow guards Pierre Jackson and Norris Cole, who combined for 14 points on 6-of-22 from the field. The American backcourt duo did, however, come up with two big plays when it mattered most, with both guards hitting a three-pointer in the final 40 seconds.
Jake Cohen was Maccabi’s only other player in double figures with 13 points.
“We had to fight through a lot of adversity to get the win,” said Cohen. “I’m proud of the guys because a lot of things didn’t go our way, but we managed to do just enough to get the win.”
Alex Chubrevich had 18 points and 18 rebounds for Ashdod, which entered the encounter on the back of an eight-game winning streak over all competitions, only to suffer its first loss since December 18.
The biggest gap either team had during the semifinal showdown was eight points, with Ashdod leading 65-57 with 6:18 minutes to play. Tel Aviv head coach Neven Spahija was ejected two minutes earlier after losing his cool and running onto the court to protest against an offensive foul.
After Henry’s basket opened an eight-point margin (65-57), Tel Aviv assistant coach Guy Goodes called a timeout and his team replied with seven points over the next minute to make it a one-point game midway through the fourth period (65- 64).
DiBartolomeo’s three-pointer with just under three minutes to play completed the comeback and the yellow-and-blue was ahead by four points (69- 65) following a 12-0 run, holding Ashdod scoreless for four minutes.
Cameron Long finally broke Ashdod’s drought with just over two minutes to play and his three with 33.3 seconds remaining brought Brad Greenberg’s team back within one point (72- 71). However, after going 3-of- 10 from the field until that stage and scoring just four points, Pierre Jackson hit a crucial triple with 12.8 seconds to go.
He missed the subsequent free throw after also being fouled, and after DiBartolomeo hit just one of his attempts from the line, Ashdod had a chance to tie the game at the buzzer, only for Henry’s three-point attempt to just miss.