Maccabi TA, Rishon Lezion advance to Winner Cup semis
Maccabi Tel Aviv will face Maccabi Rishon Lezion in the semifinals in Holon on Tuesday.
By ALLON SINAI
It may only be the preseason Winner Cup, but Maccabi Tel Aviv breathed a huge sigh of relief on Sunday night, edging Hapoel Tel Aviv 81-80 to advance to the semifinals in Holon.After reaching the past eight finals of the competition, the last thing the new-look Maccabi wanted was to drop to a surprise defeat to arch-rival Hapoel Tel Aviv already in the quarters.Hapoel was centimeters away from registering the upset after leading for much of the night, with Tywain McKee’s shot at the buzzer going out off the rim.Artsiom Parakhouski had given Maccabi the lead with 4.5 seconds to play after hitting one of two free-throw attempts.Deshaun Thomas led Maccabi with 17 points, with American- Israeli John DiBartolomeo adding 16.McKee led Hapoel with 23 points.Maccabi Tel Aviv will face Maccabi Rishon Lezion in the semifinals in Holon on Tuesday, with Rishon beating Hapoel Eilat 77-71 in the first quarterfinal on Sunday.AdvertisementThe semifinal lineup will be completed on Monday in Holon when Hapoel Jerusalem faces Ironi Nahariya before Hapoel Holon plays Hapoel Gilboa/Galil.Jerusalem has maintained the core of last season’s roster, bringing back seven players. Amar’e Stoudemire is among the players who left, but Hapoel signed four new players, Austin Daye, Yogev Ohayon, Alen Omic and Greek Stratos Perperoglou. The Greek forward was brought in to add depth due to Tarence Kinsey’s lingering back injury.In the first semifinal on Sunday, a tight first three quarters ended with Eilat holding a one-point edge (53-52) entering the final 10 minutes. The final quarter would be dominated by Rishon though, going on a 20-6 run in the first six minutes of the frame to open a 13-point cushion (72-59) which Eilat couldn’t erase.Mark Tollefsen led five Rishon players in double figures with 18 points and 10 rebounds. Avi Ben-Shimol registered a double- double of 10 points and 14 assists for the winners. Jordan Loyd had 17 points for Eilat, which hosts Maccabi Tel Aviv in its BSL regular season opener next Monday.Rishon doesn’t begin its BSL campaign until October 14 when it visits Hapoel Jerusalem.Rishon was drawn to visit Maccabi Haifa in its opener, but that game was postponed until October 27 due the Greens’ NBA tour.Haifa arrived in the United States on Sunday ahead of its seventh tour in eight years. Last season’s BSL runner-up will face the Utah Jazz on Wednesday, play Indiana Pacers next Tuesday and the Portland Trail Blazers three days later.