Adrian Uter 311.
(photo credit: Adi Avishai)
Hapoel Tel Aviv’s Cinderella State Cup run comes to Nokia Arena on Monday night
when the National League leader faces Barak Netanya in the
Maccabi Tel Aviv will be a massive favorite to reach the
final when it plays Maccabi Ashdod in Monday’s second semi, but all eyes will be
on Hapoel after its unlikely progress to the last four.
club overcame Hapoel Holon and Maccabi Haifa of the BSL in the last two rounds
and is confident of claiming another victory over a top-flight club on
“There is no doubt that Netanya is the favorite,” Hapoel coach
Sharon Avrahami said. “Netanya is a BSL team which plays in Europe and has far
more experience at these stages. But our advantage will be the fact that half of
Nokia Arena will be red and that will give us a tremendous push and stress
“My players have proven themselves at every chance they have
been given so far and they will once more give their all.”
than three years, Hapoel dropped to its first ever league defeat two weeks ago,
losing 74-72 to Hapoel Kfar Saba/Kokhav Yair.
Since its formation in the
summer of 2007, Hapoel had progressed through Israeli basketball’s lower
divisions without a defeat. Despite the recent setback, it continues to lead the
standings comfortably with a 16-1 record and star forward Brian Asbury believes
his team has every chance of making the final.
“If we play as a team the
way we did in our previous games we will be okay,” said Asbury, who has averaged
32 points and eight rebounds per game in his team’s cup campaign.
know what we need to do to win and we have the players who can get the job
Maccabi Tel Aviv has been in outstanding form for much of the
season, amassing a record of 28-2 in all competitions. In its last three games,
two in the Euroleague and one in the BSL, the yellow- and-blue has won by an
average 41.3 points and Ashdod will have to record one of the biggest surprises
in Israeli basketball history if it’s to reach its first ever cup
Making matters even more complicated for Ashdod is its recent
form. Ofer Berkowtiz’s team was the surprise package in the BSL at the start of
the season, winning at one stage six of seven games to move into second position
in the table, as well as knocking out Bnei Hasharon and Hapoel Gilboa/Galil on
its way to the cup semis.
However, Ashdod has lost four of its last five
league games, including three straight, and enters Monday’s encounter in the
worst possible situation.
On TV: State Cup semifinals: Hapoel Tel Aviv vs Barak Netanya (live on Channel 1
at 7 p.m.); Maccabi Tel Aviv vs Maccabi Ashdod (live on Channel 1 at 9:30 p.m.)