Same old story as Mac TA thwarts Hap J’lem

Yellow-and-blue relies on bread-and-butter to take commanding 2-0 semifinal series lead.

May 31, 2013 00:29
2 minute read.
Maccabi Tel Aviv's Yogev Ohayon.

Maccabi Tel Aviv's Yogev Ohayon 370. (photo credit: Adi Avishai)

Maccabi Tel Aviv closed to within a single victory of advancing to its 20th straight BSL final on Thursday night, beating Hapoel Jerusalem 74-68 at Malha Arena to take a 2-0 lead in the playoff semifinals.

Three days after claiming a comfortable 18-point win in the best-of-five series opener, Maccabi dominated Hapoel once more, holding the lead throughout the night, much of the time by double-figures.

The final score doesn’t do Tel Aviv’s performance justice, but Maccabi won’t care one bit and will be looking to complete a second straight sweep in the playoffs when it hosts Jerusalem in Game 3 on Monday.

Maccabi Haifa can book its place in the final a day earlier when it welcomes Hapoel Eilat to Romema Arena.

The one-game winner-takes-all BSL final will take place at Romema on June 13.

Lior Eliyahu had 17 points for Maccabi on Thursday, with Shawn James adding 13 points, 10 rebounds and four blocks.

“Jerusalem is one of the most talented teams in the league and they are not just going to die, especially at their home court so we had to come out fighting,” said James. “Maccabi is built on championships and that is what we are chasing.”

Samardo Samuels had 20 points for Jerusalem, which will need to record a massive upset on Monday to extend its season.

Maccabi punished Jerusalem on the fast-break time and again in the first quarter, with Ricky Hickman’s lay-up opening a nine-point gap (18-9).

Hapoel’s perimeter defense was not much better, with Guy Pnini having all the time in the world to hit a three-pointer which took the margin to double- digits (21-11).

A Yogev Ohayon triple extended the cushion to 11 points (24-13) and Maccabi seemed comfortable enough with a 26-17 lead after 10 minutes.

However, Jerusalem got right back into the game with a 10-2 run to start the second quarter, with a Samuels basket cutting the gap to a single point (28-27).

But the hosts could not complete the comeback, with Maccabi scoring nine of the next 10 points, the last three of which were netted by Pnini to open a 37-28 advantage.

The yellow-and-blue were still in control at the interval (39-31) and all but secured the win with 10 minutes still to play.

A Josh Duncan triple did bring Hapoel within five points (44-39), but Jerusalem would only score three more points to Maccabi’s 12 in the remainder of the third quarter, with an Eliyahu basket extending the margin to an unassailable 14 points (56-42), moving Tel Aviv within one win of the final.

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