Hapoel's Matan Naor 311.
(photo credit: Adi Avishai)
Hapoel Tel Aviv of the National League stunned Hapoel Gilboa/Galil to reach the
State Cup quarterfinals on Sunday, while Hapoel Jerusalem’s dismal season took
another turn for the worst with an early exit.
Tel Aviv, which reached
the semifinals of the cup last season, never allowed Gilboa’s supposedly
superior roster to stamp its authority on the game.
Yavzuri tied the score at 54-54 with five minutes remaining, but it was Tel
Aviv, backed by a raucous crowd at Hadar Yosef Arena, which pulled ahead in the
closing stages with a 7-0 run (61-54) before Matan Naor’s three-pointer with 43
seconds to play (64-59) ensured another memorable cup win for the
Naor led Tel Aviv with 17 points, while Jonathan Skjoldenbrand
scored 16 points.
Joseph Jones had 22 points for Gilboa, which will now
have no option but to turn its complete focus to the BSL.
“Our goal is to
return to the BSL, the cup is only a bonus,” said Naor, who remembers that
despite its magical cup run last season, Hapoel came up short in the National
League playoff finals.
Tel Aviv will learn who it faces next in Monday’s
draw, with the quarterfinals to already take place this Wednesday and
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Hapoel Jerusalem was hoping to rescue something from a dreadful
season by making a significant cup run, but Maccabi Rishon Lezion had different
ideas, progressing to the last eight with an 82-72 home victory.
was up for grabs after baskets by Guni Izraeli and Brian Randle brought
Jerusalem within two points (71-69) with 1:40 left.
But Effi Birenboim’s
Rishon ensured Hapoel would not complete its comeback and gave Jerusalem’s new
coach Sharon Drucker plenty to ponder after just his second game at the
Derwin Kitchen led Rishon with 26 points and 11 rebounds, with Joe
Crawford contributing 20 points.
“The pressure was on Jerusalem,”
Birenboim said. “We played superb defense and scored a lot of points on the fast
Moshe Mizrahi scored 16 points for Jerusalem, which has now got
three months of largely meaningless BSL games to look forward to before the
start to the league playoffs.
“This isn’t an ideal situation, but it is
what it is and no one is looking for an excuse,” Drucker said. “We were ready
for this battle. We controlled the game for large periods and I felt we could
win the game. But two poor plays ended our story.”
There were two more
all-BSL showdowns in the last 16, with BC Habika’a beating Maccabi Haifa 82-76
and Hapoel Holon thrashing Barak Netanya 106-66.
Ironi Ashkelon avoided a
shock defeat to National League Elitzur Ramle, eking out an 80-77 victory on the
road, while Maccabi Ashdod beat Hapoel Tivon 82-56.
Besides Hapeol Tel
Aviv, Hapoel Afula will be the only other National League team in the
quarterfinals draw after defeating Maccabi Hod Hasharon 87-77.
and final team to reach the quarterfinals will be determined on Monday when
Maccabi Tel Aviv visits Bnei Hasharon.
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