Maccabi Kiryat Gat ’S 40-yearold guard Meir Tapiro.
(photo credit: ASAF KLIGER)
Hapoel Jerusalem suffered a shock exit at the opening hurdle of the State Cup on Thursday night, losing 87-72 to Maccabi Haifa for its first defeat to an Israeli team at the Jerusalem Arena this season.
The defending BSL champion and last season’s cup finalist was extremely confident of taking a first step towards another final on Thursday, but was ultimately outplayed by a determined Haifa side in the round of 16 and will have to wait at least one more year until it claims a first cup since 2008.
Haifa led by as many as 12 points in the first half, only for Jerusalem to cut the gap to a single point (41-40) by the break.
However, Haifa pulled ahead once more in the third quarter and eventually cruised in the final minutes on the way to a memorable win.
Gregory Vargas led Haifa with 22 points, with Josh Duncan scoring 17 points for Jerusalem.
Haifa joined Maccabi Tel Aviv, Maccabi Rishon Lezion and Bnei Herzliya, who all advanced to the last eight on Wednesday, with Maccabi Kiryat Gat, Maccabi Ashdod, Ironi Ness Ziona and Hapoel Ramat Gan/Givataim also progressing on Thursday.
Kiryat Gat surprised Hapoel Tel Aviv 83-82 on the road thanks to a classic Meir Tapiro buzzer-beater.
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Kiryat Gat took a nine-point cushion (65-56) into the final 10 minutes, but Hapoel slowly ate away at the gap, tying the score at 77-77 with just over two minutes remaining.
A Tre Simmons basket with 17.3 seconds remaining gave the hosts the lead, but Tapiro added yet another winning clutch shot to his already extended list to secure the upset.
Tapiro finished with 17 points and five assists for the winners, with Romero Osby adding 17 points.
John Williamson had 21 points and nine boards for Tel Aviv, which was hoping to kick-start its floundering BSL campaign with a cup run.
Maccabi Ashdod survived a scare against Hapoel Kfar Saba of the National League, claiming an 86-80 win on the road. Kfar Saba trailed by just four points (65-61) entering the final 10 minutes, but couldn’t complete a shock win.
Hapoel Ramat Gan/Givataim will be the only National League team in the last eight, beating fellow second-division side Maccabi Hod Hasharon 104-98. Yoad Beit Yosef was sensational for the winners, scoring 43 points.
Also Thursday, Ironi Ness Ziona defeated Hapoel Migdal Haemek of the National League 86-71.
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