Maccabi TA first team into league semis

Strong second half sees yellow-and-blue clinch sweep against Ness Ziona.

Maccabi Tel Aviv center Alex Tyus dunks two of his 16 points in Sunday's 90-73 win over Ironi Ness Ziona (photo credit: ADI AVISHAI)
Maccabi Tel Aviv center Alex Tyus dunks two of his 16 points in Sunday's 90-73 win over Ironi Ness Ziona
(photo credit: ADI AVISHAI)
Maccabi Tel Aviv became the first team to advance to the BSL semifinals on Sunday night, beating Ironi Ness Ziona 90-73 at Yad Eliyahu Arena to complete a 3-0 sweep in the series.
Maccabi escaped with a victory in Game 1 thanks to a Yogev Ohayon three-pointer with 7.1 seconds to play before cruising on the road in Game 2. The first half on Sunday had many similarities to the opening game in the series, with Maccabi losing focus on defense and only taking a slender 45-44 lead into the break. However, in the second half of Game 3 the yellow-andblue would display the form that brought it a straight-forward victory in Game 2, holding Ness Ziona to just 29 points to secure a berth in the last four.
No. 1 seed Maccabi will have at least 10 days to prepare for the best-of-five semifinals, with its next opponent to come from the series between Hapoel Eilat (4) and Maccabi Haifa (5). Eilat hosts Game 3 on Monday with the series tied at 1-1.
Alex Tyus had 16 points and 11 rebounds for Maccabi on Sunday, with Jeremy Pargo also scoring 16 points and Brian Randle adding 14 points and 10 rebounds.
“We knew we had to change something at halftime,” said Randle. “We weren’t as aggressive as we needed to be. But we had a good halftime talk and we came out the right way.
“Eilat and Haifa are both really good, but we are going to take the next two days to rest and we’ll see what happens after that,” he added.
Maccabi coach Guy Goodes is on the one hand pleased his players will have plenty of time to overcome niggling injuries, but on the other hand is concerned the long break until the start of the semis could disrupt his team’s rhythm.
“We weren’t focused in the first half and gave them free shots but we talked about it and they scored just 29 points in the second half,” he said. “We have almost 11 days until the semifinals so the players who have some nagging injuries can rest and we’ll have plenty of time to prepare.”
Hapoel Jerusalem and Maccabi Rishon Lezion will look to join Maccabi in the semis on Monday. Jerusalem (2) hosts Hapoel Tel Aviv (7) with a 2-0 lead after recording a convincing win on the road in Game 2.
Jerusalem has won 17 of its past 19 games overall and continues to grow in confidence ahead of a possible showdown with Maccabi Tel Aviv in the final.
Rishon Lezion (6) visits Hapoel Holon (3), which can’t find an answer for rising star Shawn Dowson. The 21-year-old Israeli has been unstoppable so far in the series, scoring 28 points in each of the first two games.