Maccabi Tel Aviv’s Jeremy Pargo.
(photo credit: ADI AVISHAI)
Jeremy Pargo ensured Maccabi Tel Aviv got the BSL semifinals off to a winning start on Wednesday night, scoring 32 points in a 91-82 victory over Hapoel Eilat at Yad Eliyahu Arena.
Maccabi showed plenty of rust after 10 days without a game, but was still too good for Eilat, which was hoping to build on the momentum from its Game 5 win in the quarters over Maccabi Haifa three days earlier.
The yellow-and-blue was ahead for much of the first half, but took just a one-point lead (36-35) into the break. However, Pargo’s 13 points in the third quarter, including three straight triples, opened a double-digit gap (63-53) which Eilat couldn’t erase.
“We had some lapses we didn’t like and luckily we made some changes in the half and we won the game,” said Pargo. “This is going to be a tough series. They play really well at home and the next game is really big.”
Devin Smith added 14 points for Maccabi, but had to leave the game with a knee injury in the fourth quarter.
Niv Berkowitz had 13 points for Eilat, which hosts Game 2 on Sunday.
The other semifinal series will begin on Thursday when Hapoel Jerusalem (2) hosts Maccabi Rishon Lezion (6).
Jerusalem defeated Rishon in all four of their meetings this season, including in the State Cup quarterfinals. Three of the contests were tight, although Hapoel claimed a comfortable 15-point win in their most recent meeting in mid-April.
“We haven’t played in many days and it is important that we get the game off to a good start,” said Jerusalem coach Danny Franco.
Rishon was led by 21-year-old rising star Shawn Dowson in the quarterfinals, with the guard averaging 20.5 points and 9.0 rebounds over the four games against Hapoel Holon.
“Jerusalem is an excellent team and we are aware of the fact that they are the favorites,” said Rishon assistant coach Shmulik Brenner. “But we hope that with our fighting spirit and team play we will be able to reach new highs.”