Hapoel Tel Aviv’s magical State Cup run ended in heartbreaking fashion at Nokia
Arena on Monday night, with the National League leader being edged 78-77 in the
semifinals by Barak Netanya, which will face Maccabi Tel Aviv in the final on
Hapoel looked to be on its way to its third straight upset
victory over a BSL team after taking the lead at the midway point of the second
quarter and holding it until deep into the fourth period.
Netanya’s Adrian Banks guided his team to the win almost singlehandedly in the
final frame, scoring 16 points in the final six minutes of the encounter,
including the game-winning free-throw with 1.7 seconds to play.
can’t believe what quite happened”, said Banks, who ended the contest with 29
points and seven rebounds.
“We were down by as many as 13 points, but we
always believed we could come back.”
Romeo Travis had 13 points and 11
rebounds for Netanya, which won despite shooting just 38.8 percent from
two-point range (19 of 49) and 57.1 percent from the line (16 of
“Hapoel controlled much of the game, but we came back in the money
time,” Netanya coach Eric Alfasi said.
“I’m proud of my players for
advancing to the final after losing in last year’s semis.”
had 24 points for Hapoel, with Adrian Uter adding 22 points and 15 rebounds for
the forlorn Reds.
“This is a massive disappointment,” Hapoel swingman
Matan Naor said.
“Our fans deserved a win, but I’m sure that in a few
years time we will look back at this game with a lot of pride.
experience gives us even more motivation to get back to this stage in the future
and we must remember that our main target is to gain promotion to the
The second semi of the night was as good as over after 10 minutes,
with Maccabi Tel Aviv outscoring Maccabi Ashdod 27-3 in the first period on its
way to a 98-61 victory.
The yellow-and-blue held Ashdod to an
embarrassing six percent (1 of 16) from the field in the first quarter and the
remainder of the game was completely meaningless.
Lior Eliyahu led
Maccabi with 18 points, with Richard Hendrix scoring 14 points for the
yellow-and-blue, which are looking for their second straight cup
Ramel Bradley had 17 points for Ashdod, which never looked like
a team that believed it belonged on the same court as Maccabi.
Travis would score the first points of the night’s first semi for Netanya and
Alfasi’s men held a slender margin for much of the first period.
Hapoel always remained in touch with Netanya and Uter’s freethrow to end the
first frame tied the score at 21-21.
Uter gave Tel Aviv its first lead of
the game from the line at the start of the second period, and with Netanya’s
defense unable to slow down either Uter or Asbury, the margin inevitably
Uter ended the first half with 17 points, but it was Asbury
who sparked Hapoel’s breakaway.
A triple by the former University of
Miami forward followed by another long range basket from Naor increased Hapoel’s
lead to 36-31 and Sharon Avrahami’s side was soon ahead by nine points (40-31)
after a rare fourpoint play by Asbury.
Gal Eitan’s successful free-throw
gave Tel Aviv a double-digit gap (45- 35) at the break and the underdogs
remained in control at the start of the second half, with Yaron Lahat’s
threepoint play opening a record 13-point gap (54-41).
with an 8-0 run, capped by three points from Banks, but after struggling at the
offensive end for the entire quarter, Uter finally scored his first points of
the second half two seconds to the end of the period to give Hapoel an
eight-point cushion (61-53) with 10 minutes to play.
Tel Aviv’s fans
could smell the victory after their team scored the first five points of the
final period (66-53) to move into a commanding position, but Hapoel completely
lost its scoring touch after that, and two successive threes by Banks brought
Netanya back within five points (67-62) with five minutes to play in the
Four quick Hapoel points opened a comfortable margin once more, but
after misfiring all season long, Banks all of the sudden couldn’t miss from
beyond the arc and another three by the guard cut the gap to just four points
(71-67) with 3:22 to go.
Asbury’s points from the line with 1:47
remaining moved Tel Aviv into a five-point lead (75-70), but just when it seemed
that Hapoel was on its way to the final, Netanya pulled off the most dramatic of
A three by Shmulik Brenner cut the margin to two points
(75-73), only for Asbury to hit a long jumper at the other end to keep Tel Aviv
in the driving seat (77-74) with 44 seconds to play.
continued his oneman show, evening the score with a triple with 35 seconds on
the clock and an Asbury miss soon after put the fate of the game in the hands of
Netanya’s American guard.
After the fourth quarter he had, there was no
way Banks was going to disappoint Netanya in its moment of truth.
being fouled by Asbury with 1.7 seconds to go, Banks hit his first freethrow
before missing the second intentionally to send his team through to the final in