Maccabi Rishon Lezion guard Shawn Dawson led all players in voting for this year’s BSL All-Star game, which will be held in Eilat next Friday..
(photo credit: ODED KARNI/MACCABI RISHON LEZION)
Maccabi Rishon Lezion entered its European campaign with little expectations.
Having not played in continental competition since 2007, Rishon was mainly hoping to gain experience and enjoy the ride.
The ride has lasted far longer than expected, with Rishon just one win away from qualifying for the Final Four of the FIBA Europe Cup.
Rishon visits Skyliners Frankfurt in the third and decisive game of their quarterfinal series on Thursday, two weeks after losing by 35 points in Game 1 in Germany.
Frankfurt thoroughly outplayed the Israelis 92-57, improving to 15-0 in the competition.
However, Rishon handed the Germans their first loss last week, claiming an 88-84 overtime victory at home. Darryl Monroe led the way with 28 points, 14 rebounds and nine assists.
Rishon continued to build momentum with a convincing 74-51 win over Hapoel Holon in the BSL on Sunday, despite playing without the injured Chris Wright and Kevin Palmer. Both are also doubtful for Thursday’s contest, but coach Sharon Drucker is optimistic they will be able to help Rishon register the upset.
“Not many teams have managed to beat Frankfurt, but we did,” said Drucker. “We will do everything to reach the Final Four. Our five months playing in Europe have been intense and tough. But we put Rishon on the map.”
French club Elan Chalon was the first to progress to the Final Four last week, with the three other quarterfinals all going to a third game. Enisey Krasnoyarsk of Russia hosts Cibona Zagreb of Croatia on Thursday, while Varese welcomes Antwerp Giants in their series decider next week.
“We have a chance to make history,” said Rishon guard Mark Lyons. “We will be concentrated and focused. I believe that Frankfurt will also be ready for the game and they will be determined to reach the Final Four.
This may be just another game, but we all know that there is no way back.”
Meanwhile, three-time NBA dunk champion Nate Robinson vowed to fight back after fouling out in Hapoel Tel Aviv’s painful 89-88 double-overtime defeat at Ironi Nahariya on Tuesday that left the team one game back of eighth place in the BSL standings which will lead to the playoffs at the end of the regular season.
After scoring a dazzling 25 points in a 103-94 win over Rishon Lezion in his debut last week, Robinson was held to 17 points at Ein Sara on Tuesday, shooting just 7-of-17 from the field, while missing two decisive opportunities to win the game in the final minute of regulation. He fouled out in the second extra period.
“That’s all right we gave one away,” said a frustrated Robinson. “It is a little different playing here. The rules are different and I’ll get used to it as time goes on. Of course I can play better. I take this loss on myself. I blame myself for not keeping composure and not getting my teammates involved. This is a game we should have won.”