HAPOEL JERUSALEM forward Josh Duncan 370.
(photo credit: Adi Avishai)
Hapoel Jerusalem stole home-court advantage in the BSL quarterfinal playoffs on
Wednesday night with an 87-80 win at Barak Netanya.
After an erratic
regular season, Jerusalem got the playoffs off to a flying start, moving into an
early lead on Wednesday and remaining in front until the final
Josh Duncan had 26 points for Jerusalem, with Samardo Samuels
Ramel Bradley netted 26 points for Netanya, which will be
looking to bounce back in Game 2 in Jerusalem on Monday.
remaining quarterfinals will get underway on Thursday.
On paper, the
series between Maccabi Tel Aviv (1) and Hapoel Tel Aviv (8) is the least
balanced of all four quarters. However, Hapoel’s stunning victory over Maccabi
in the most recent derby means the Reds believe they are capable of at least
avoiding a sweep in the quarters, even if a place in the semis seems beyond
their reach.“We are proud that we have even reached this stage,” said Hapoel
coach Erez Edelstein, who guided the team back to the top flight last year and
met expectations this term simply by avoiding relegation. “Clearly Maccabi is a
firm favorite. But while we may not have the most talented team in the league,
we have gotten stronger with time and we will do our best.” Maccabi lost two
straight games in overtime before crushing Netanya on Sunday and coach David
Blatt believes his team has turned a corner.
”The derby is always a
special game, especially in the playoffs,” Blatt said. “There is a lot of talk
about Maccabi suffering from a crisis but we have done an excellent job this
season and wrapped up the No.
1 seed long ago. I think we are ready for
this series and have gotten back on track.”
Maccabi Haifa hosts Hapoel
Gilboa/Galil in game 1 of a showdown that seems set to be far tighter than a
typical series between a No. 2 and No. 7 seed.
Gilboa won six straight
games before losing a meaningless contest against Maccabi Ashdod on Sunday,
while Haifa clinched the runners-up position with a dramatic victory over Hapoel
”We believe in ourselves. We are not entering the series thinking
we are the underdog,” said Gilboa coach Lior Lubin. “Haifa may have home-court
advantage but we are looking to win Game 1.”
Haifa’s win over Eilat means
it will benefit from playing a decisive Game 5 at home, should it be required,
in both the quarters and the semis ahead of the one-game winner-takes-all final
which will take place at the club’s home arena in Romema.“The fact that the
final will be played in Romema gives us an added incentive,” said Haifa guard
“It’s a dream to play the final on your home court, but we
still have a long way to go as we face a tough series with Gilboa.” Also
Thursday, Hapoel Eilat (3) welcomes the faltering Maccabi Rishon Lezion
Eilat won five of six games before being edged by Haifa, while
Rishon lost six straight encounters before beating Jerusalem in an
inconsequential contest on Sunday.
“Each of the eight teams in the
playoffs can dream of achieving great things and that is what makes this season
so special,” was how Eilat coach Oded Katash summed up this post-season.