Maccabi Tel Aviv keeps Euroleague playoff hopes alive

Maccabi lost any realistic hope of reaching the post-season long ago, though saw a slight improvement on Thursday.

March 10, 2017 03:44
2 minute read.
Maccabi Tel Aviv’

Maccabi Tel Aviv’s Diamon Simpson. (photo credit: ADI AVISHAI)

Maccabi Tel Aviv maintained a mathematical chance of advancing to the Euroleague quarterfinal playoffs for at least one more week on Thursday night, beating Olimpia Milano 92-82 at Yad Eliyahu Arena.

Maccabi lost any realistic hope of reaching the post-season long ago, entering the encounter needing to erase a five-game gap with six games to play in the regular season. But at least it avoided further embarrassment on Thursday, improving to a 9-16 record with just its fourth win from the past 16 games.

Maccabi opened a 16-point gap (51-35) by the break and led by as many as 23 points (58-35) early in the second half.

Milano closed to within six points with a 23-6 run (64-58), but the hosts allowed the Italians no closer.

Victor Rudd led Maccabi with 17 points, with Diamon Simpson finishing with 11 points and eight rebounds on his debut.

Elsewhere, Hapoel Jerusalem said on Thursday that it will host Valencia in Game 2 of their best-of-three Eurocup semifinal at 2 p.m. on Friday afternoon, March 17.

Valencia’s 92-76 win over Khimki Moscow on Wednesday gave the Spaniards a 2-1 win in the quarterfinals, setting up a meeting with Hapoel in the last four.

Valencia will have home-court advantage after going 6-0 in the Top 16 and will host Game 1 in Spain on Tuesday. If necessary, a decisive Game 3 will be held in Valencia on Tuesday, March 22.

Jerusalem tried to move Game 2 from Friday, but after its request was rejected, chose to set an unorthodox afternoon tipoff time so that its observant fans will be able to attend before the start of Shabbat.

Jerusalem, which advanced to the semis with a 2-0 win over Gran Canaria of Spain, played Valencia twice earlier this season. Hapoel handed Valencia its only home defeat (81-77) of the campaign in its regular season opener before losing to the Spaniards (86-84) at home a month later.

The third Israeli side still active in continental competition is Ironi Nahariya, but it faces an uphill battle to extend its Europe Cup campaign beyond next week after losing by 21 points (89-68) at Telekom Bonn in the first leg of their quarterfinal tie in Germany on Wednesday.

Nahariya, which was outscored 25-5 in the first quarter, will try to overturn the deficit when it hosts the second leg next Wednesday.

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