J’lem, Eilat advance to playoff semis

Hapoel Jerusalem to face Maccabi Tel Aviv after knocking out Netanya in 5; Hapoel Eilat dispatches Rishon Lezion, set to face Maccabi Haifa.

May 24, 2013 06:00
2 minute read.
Hapoel Jerusalem

Hapoel Jerusalem 370. (photo credit: Adi Avishai)

Hapoel Jerusalem will face Maccabi Tel Aviv in the BSL playoff semifinals after claiming a 79-68 road-victory over Barak Netanya in the decisive Game 5 of the quarterfinals on Thursday.

Netanya was hoping to become just the second team in Israeli basketball history to come back from a 0-2 deficit in a best-offive series, but it couldn’t complete the upset on Thursday after being outscored 23-8 in the third quarter.

“We came out like animals at the start of the second half,” said Jerusalem coach Sharon Drucker.

“This was an amazing series and we were superb in Game 5. I’m so happy.
We deserved to win the game.”

Maccabi Tel Aviv secured its progress to the last four last week after whitewashing Hapoel Tel Aviv 3-0 and will host Jerusalem in Game 1 at Nokia Arena on Monday night.

Maccabi Haifa also progressed to the semis with a 3-0 sweep last week, outplaying Hapoel Gilboa/Galil, and the Greens will play Hapoel Eilat next after the southerners claimed a 91- 80 home-win over Maccabi Rishon Lezion in Game 5 of the quarterfinals on Thursday.

“Rishon made life very tough for us and I’m very proud of my players,” said Eilat coach Oded Katash.

“We dug ourselves a hole after losing Game 1, but we managed to bounce back.”

Game 5 in Netanya couldn’t have started any tighter, with the score tied at 39-39 at halftime. But Netanya would lose its way after the break and Jerusalem all but clinched the win with a 13-0 run to start the half.

The hosts had no answer for Josh Duncan and a Samardo Samuels basket to end the third period opened a 15-point margin (62-47) which even the Phoenix-like Netanya couldn’t overcome.

Duncan was outstanding for the winners yet again, contributing 23 points and 10 rebounds, with Ron Steele netting 15 points.

Marco Killingsworth led Netanya with 21 points.

Rishon was not deterred by Eilat’s boisterous fans and had a one-point edge (19- 18) after a back-and-forth first period. Eilat moved in front at the start of the second quarter, but Rishon never lost touch, with a Larry O’Bannon three-pointer to beat the halftime buzzer giving the hosts a five-point edge (40-35).

Few experts gave Rishon any chance to overcome Eilat and reach the semis at the start of the series, but Roni Bosani’s side deservedly forced a fifth game and came back to lead 52-51 midway through the third frame following Nitzan Hanochi’s basket.

However, the hosts fought back to take a 62- 57 gap into the final 10 minutes and exploded in the final frame to clinch the series.

Rishon couldn’t find its range and three triples by Tony Younger within 65 seconds opened a 13-point gap (76-63) which Eilat easily converted to a win.

Eli Holman had 20 points and eight rebounds for Eilat, with O’Bannon scoring 15 and Scotty Hopson adding 14 points.

Adrian Uter continued his superb series for Rishon, but his 25 points and 12 boards weren’t enough to save his team’s season.

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