EREZ EDELSTEIN 311.
(photo credit: Adi Avishai)
Maccabi Rishon Lezion ended Hapoel Tel Aviv’s Cinderella State Cup run on
Thursday night, while Maccabi Tel Aviv ensured the National League will not have
any representation in the semifinals with a straightforward victory at Hapoel
The fourth and final team to advance to the last four was BC
Habika’a, which recorded a dramatic 70-64 victory over Maccabi Ashdod, with
Hapoel Holon securing its progress on Wednesday with an 83-64 win over Ironi
Hapoel Tel Aviv of the National League was looking to reach the
semifinals of the cup for a second straight season and it gave Rishon a run for
its money for large periods of Thursday’s encounter at Hadar Yosef Arena before
Hapoel led by four points (18-14) after 10 minutes, but
a 19-2 Rishon run early in the second period put Effi Birenboim’s side in the
driving seat (33-22).
Rishon still had a double-digit gap at the break
(43-31), but backed by its raucous support, Hapoel remained within striking
distance in the third and Erez Edelstein’s men were still alive with 10 minutes
to play, trailing 58-49.
The hosts managed to come within seven points at
one stage in the final frame (66-59), but every time Hapoel threatened Rishon’s
cushion, the visitors seemed to answer back with a three-pointer, hitting 10 of
18 shots from beyond the arc on the night.
Joe Crawford had 27 points,
including three triples, for Rishon, with former Hapoel Tel Aviv forward Adrian
Uter adding 21 points and seven rebounds.
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Cory Carr scored 17 points for
“We implemented our game plan and we looked good,” a pleased
Birenboim said. “Last season we reached the BSL Final Four and now we are in the
final four of the cup and that is a great achievement for this club. Now I’m
crossing my fingers that we will not be drawn against Maccabi Tel Aviv in the
The yellow-and-blue entered Thursday’s quarterfinal at Afula with
seven straight wins by at least 20 points and it was far from a surprise that it
made it eight in a row with a 116-86 win.
Maccabi center Shawn James
stole the show with a rare triple-double, scoring 12 points, taking 10 rebounds
and recording no less than 11 blocks.
David Blu scored 25 points and Lior
Eliyahu added 20 for Maccabi, which took it easy in the first quarter, leading
by a mere five points (25-25) after 10 minutes (25-20).
moved up a gear in the second period to take a 54-40 gap into the break,
rendering the second half as no more than an exhibition.
“It was a fun
game,” Maccabi coach David Blatt said. “I think Afula is a good team. They won
seven of eight games before this. We have used our recent games to work on some
things ahead of the start to the Euroleague Top 16 next week. What we have
encountered in recent weeks is nothing like what we will face at Zalgiris Kaunas
The tightest game of the night was in Ashdod, with the
lead going back and forth in the closing stages.
A Josh Carter three gave
Ashdod a 64-63 lead with 1:46 remaining, but a Rashaun Freeman basket put
Habika’a back in the lead for good and sent the newly-promoted side into the
Paul Delaney led the winners with 18 points, seven rebounds and
six assists, with Carter scoring 17 for Ashdod.
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