Ricky Hickman 370.
(photo credit: Adi Avishai)
Maccabi Tel Aviv will be confident of sweeping Hapoel Tel Aviv and advancing to
the BSL playoff semifinals on Thursday after claiming an 80-67 victory in Game 2
in Rishon Lezion on Sunday thanks to a 16-2 fourth-quarter run.
fought back from a 22-point deficit in Game 1 at Nokia Arena to force a tight
finish before falling 76-68.
The Reds held a slender lead in the third
quarter of Game 2 on Sunday, but their short roster inevitably tired against the
deep Maccabi, which raced into an unassailable double-digit gap (76-62) with a
relentless surge to open a 2-0 advantage in the best-of-five series.
knew we had to play an excellent game to win here and I think we did that,” said
coach David Blatt, who improved to an amazing 24-0 record in the playoffs as
“Hapoel played well and it was tough. I think we have
played with the right attitude recently after a bit of a drop in form, but there
is of course still a long way to go.”
After leading Maccabi with 23
points in the series opener, Ricky Hickman continued his excellent form with 25
points on Sunday, including six three-pointers. Lior Eliyahu scored 16, with
Yogev Ohayon just missing out on a triple double, ending the night with nine
points, 10 rebounds and eight assists.
Anthony Goods had 24 points for
Hapoel, which understands that it will have a difficult time avoiding a sweep
when it visits Nokia Arena on Thursday.
“We are realistic, but we will
still give our all at Nokia,” said Hapoel coach Erez Edelstein. “It is difficult
to beat Maccabi twice in a season. They are more experienced than us and were
Maccabi got off to the better start, with Hickman’s
three to end the first giving the yellow-and-blue a five-point margin
A David Logan basket increased the gap to double-digits (26-16)
early in the second period and Maccabi’s lead reached 12 points (34-22) soon
Hapoel closed to within five points, but Maccabi was still
perfectly placed at the half, leading 43-32.
However, almost inevitably,
the Reds mounted another brave comeback and Jonathan Skjoldebrand’s three with
three minutes remaining in the frame gave Hapoel a 50-49 advantage.
Pnini, who infamously called Skjoldebrand a Nazi during the first derby of the
season, replied with a basket from beyond the arc to put Maccabi back in front
and the visitors held a four-point margin (60-56) entering the final
A Goods basket brought the hosts back on level terms (60-60)
one minute into the fourth period, but Blatt’s men scored the next eight points,
with a Devin Smith triple opening a 68-60 margin with six minutes left on the
Maccabi never looked back, with four straight Ohayon points
opening a 14- point margin (76-62) from which Hapoel was never going to come
Game 2 of the three remaining quarterfinal series’ will be played
Hapoel Jerusalem (5) will look to move into a 2-0 lead against
Barak Netanya (4) at Malha Arena after snatching home-court advantage with an
87-80 win on the road.
Hapoel Eilat (2) will be desperate to get back on
level terms with a road win at Maccabi Rishon Lezion (7), while Maccabi Haifa
(3) takes a 1-0 lead into Game 2 at Hapoel Gilboa/Galil (6).