Jerusalem, Mac TA, Rishon, Holon in semis

Reds overcome Gilboa, yellow-and-blue nets derby triumph to roar into State Cup Final Four.

HAPOEL JERUSALEM guard Tamir Blatt [R] drives past Hapoel Gilboa/Galil’s Jehyve Floyd [L] during Jerusalem’s 80-65 victory over Gilboa in the State Cup quarterfinals. (photo credit: LILACH WEISS)
HAPOEL JERUSALEM guard Tamir Blatt [R] drives past Hapoel Gilboa/Galil’s Jehyve Floyd [L] during Jerusalem’s 80-65 victory over Gilboa in the State Cup quarterfinals.
(photo credit: LILACH WEISS)
The Israel State Cup Final Four is set after a full weekend of quarterfinal action around the country.
The 2020 Cup holder Hapoel Jerusalem joined Maccabi Tel Aviv, Maccabi Rishon Lezion and Hapoel Holon to round out the final four, which is slated to be played in February but may be pushed off until the spring when fans will hopefully be allowed back into arenas throughout the Holy Land.
Hapoel Jerusalem looked to get back onto the winning track after two league losses and that’s exactly what it did in downing Hapoel Gilboa/Galil 80-65 up north in the Galilee at Gan Ner to advance to the semifinals.
Oded Katash’s squad took advantage of multiple errors by the hosts to break away at the end of the third quarter of a tight game to cruise to a 15-point victory with a dominant final frame. TaShawn Thomas led the way for the Reds with 24 points and nine rebounds, Suleiman Braimoh added 14 points, Tamir Blatt had12 points while Idan Zalmanson chipped in with 10 points in the win. Isaiah Cousins scored 13 points while Jehyve Floyd and Kerry Blackshear each scored 12 points for Gilboa in the defeat.
“We played against an excellent team that is coached extremely well,” said Katash. “They played us very tough and this was a very difficult game. I was very happy as to how we defended throughout the 40 minutes and I am very proud of the players who have played many minutes recently.
Gilboa coach Lior Lubin also spoke about the game.
“Jerusalem is a very talented team and they are also the cup holders. Their size, experience and depth eventually decided the game.”
Floyd put down a thundering dunk to get Hapoel Gilboa/Galil off and running, but Hapoel Jerusalem immediately answered with a Thomas dunk off a fast-break and a Blatt midrange jumper. Floyd had another dunk, Netanel Artzi scored in the paint, while Kerry Blackshear did the same as the hosts held an 8-6 lead midway through the first quarter.
Cousins scored a baseline jumper and then nailed a three-pointer while backup center Benayahu Srur found points inside, but Jerusalem’s Braimoh and J’Covan Brown added their names to the scoresheet as Gilboa held a slim two-point lead (17-15) after an end-to-end opening frame.
Adi Cohen Saban drilled a corner three-pointer for Jerusalem, but Yotam Hanochi cleaned up the glass and Cousins fed Floyd for an alley-oop to begin the second quarter. Hanochi and Jamil Wilson traded triples, Artzi and Blatt each put in points while Iftach Ziv and Thomas did the same as Jerusalem took a narrow 36-33 lead into halftime.
Thomas and Braimioh scored for Jerusalem while Blackshear and Ziv did the same for Gilboa, but Brown fed Thomas for a dunk and then Brown effortlessly drained a three to up the visitors’ lead to 45-37.
Artzi scored from downtown, Joe Thomasson went coast to coast for a three-point play while Cousins scored a layup and Floyd a dunk. But Brown drained a triple and Thomas added more points as the pace picked up. Big man Blackshear went from beyond the arc, but Zalmanson scored inside as did Braimoh to give Jerusalem a 59-53 advantage after 30 minutes.
Braimoh and Zalmanson opened the fourth quarter with points inside and swished a three-pointer to bump up the Jerusalem lead to 69-55 midway through the final frame. Thomasson went from downtown, but Thomas scored inside as Jerusalem was able to fend off a couple of layups by Cousins to notch the conquest.
Maccabi Tel Aviv, meanwhile, easily disposed of Hapoel Tel Aviv 83-66 to not only win the derby but to also move on to the State Cup semifinals.
The yellow-and-blue controlled the game from the get-go as Ante Zizic scored at will in the paint while also dominating the boards early on to the tune of 16-1 after the first quarter to cruise to the victory.
Zizic led the way with 26 points, 13 rebounds, four assists and an efficiency rating of 46, Angelo Caloiaro dropped 13 points and Omri Casspi scored eight points for Maccabi. JP Tokoto was the Hapoel high scorer with 19 points and Yam Madar added 14 points and nine assists in the loss.
“I want to congratulate my players as they played with concentration and determination to play a derby in a cup game and we won easily because of that” explained Maccabi coach Ioannis Sfairopoulos. “We protected the paint really well and it’s very important that we changed and disorganized their game.”
Also, Hapoel Holon downed Maccabi Haifa 96-88 in a tight game near the Carmel Mountain as it punched its ticket to the State Cup semifinals.
After a close first quarter, the visitors created a bit of a separation in the second frame as Stefanos Dedas’s squad grabbed a 51-42 lead after 20 minutes of action and held onto the lead for the balance of the contest.
Tyrus McGee and Guy Pnini led the way for Holon’s balanced attack with 19 points each, Chris Johnson added 18 points and Maxim De Zeeuw dropped 13 points in the win. Michael Brisker scored 22 points, Donta Smith chipped in with 18 points and Taylor Braun scored 16 points for Haifa in a losing cause.
“We couldn’t finish the game earlier and there was pressure on us,” said Dedas. “It’s as if we played against ourselves. It was a strange game but now we are in the Final Four. They have talent as they fight against everybody.”
“I don’t feel good,” said a disappointed Greens coach Daniel Seaone. “Everyone looks at the coach and I take full responsibility. I am proud of my players, but they got tired. We were competitive and we can turn the corner, but we have our backs against the wall.”
Willy Workman, who scored eight points for Holon, was making his return to Haifa for the first time since leaving the club.
“It was weird and different. I am kind of glad that the first one is out of the way.”
Lastly, Maccabi Rishon Lezion topped Ness Ziona 88-83 to advance.
The wine city squad jumped out to a 29-18 first quarter lead, but Ness Ziona fought back to go into halftime down by just five points (44-39).
However, Brad Greenberg’s team was never able to make up the difference over the final 20 minutes of play Guy Goodes’s crew moved on to the semifinals.
Isaiah Taylor led Rishon with 23 points, Akil Mitchell notched a double-double with 18 points and 10 rebounds while Noam Dovrat added 15 points in the win.
Jerome Meyinsse led Ness Ziona with 24 points, Braian Angola chipped in with 19 points and Raviv Limonad scored 14 points in the defeat.