Tel Aviv rivals set for dramatic decider

Hapoel not willing to bow to Maccabi in quarterfinal clash • Jerusalem, Rishon advance to Final Four

Hapoel TEL AVIV’s Yam Madar (left) got the best of fellow NBA Draft prospect Deni Avdija as the Reds topped Maccabi Tel Aviv in Game 2 of the their quarterfinal duel to set up a win-or-go-home contest tonight for a spot in the Final Four. (photo credit: DOV HALICKMAN PHOTOGRAPHY)
Hapoel TEL AVIV’s Yam Madar (left) got the best of fellow NBA Draft prospect Deni Avdija as the Reds topped Maccabi Tel Aviv in Game 2 of the their quarterfinal duel to set up a win-or-go-home contest tonight for a spot in the Final Four.
Maccabi Tel Aviv will host Hapoel Tel Aviv and Hapoel Holon will welcome Hapoel Gilboa/Galil in a pair of decisive games on Thursday night, which will see the winners head to the Final Four of the Israel Winner Basketball League.
The winners of the two matchups will play in one of Sunday night’s semifinals while the other semifinal will feature Hapoel Jerusalem and Maccabi Rishon Lezion. The victors will earn the right to play in the final on Tuesday night at Yad Eliyahu for a chance to be crowned the 2019/2020 champion.
Hapoel Tel Aviv steamrolled Maccabi Tel Aviv 82-72 to even up the best-of-three quarterfinals series at 1-1. The one-two punch of Yam Madar and Tomer Ginat pounded the ball home time and time again as the pair combined for 43 points to send the series to a do-or-die game on Thursday night at Yad Eliyahu.
Maccabi couldn’t get anything started as Hapoel hounded Ioannis Sfairopoulos’s squad from the get-go while Scottie Wilbekin was ejected in the third quarter for arguing a foul call.
After his final home game, an emotional ceremony was held for Reds captain Tomer Ginat, who will be departing the club to continue his playing career in France following the season.
Madar, a 2020 NBA Draft prospect, put on a show with 22 points, five rebounds and six assists, Ginat added 21 points – going 4-of-5 from three-point range – and Sek Henry scored 13 points in the win.
 Angelo Caloiaro led Maccabi with 14 points and Tyler Dorsey added 13 points in the defeat.
The star of the show, Madar, spoke after the game about the victory.
“We had to win in order to continue our season. I am always ready to play for the team first and I want to help my teammates in every which way I can. We have proved that we can stand toe-to-toe with Maccabi Tel Aviv.”
Hapoel Tel Aviv grabbed an early 14-6 lead midway through the first quarter as Yam Madar led the attack for the Reds with six points while Maccabi countered with a pair of early layups by Angelo Caloiaro. Tomer Ginat and Talib Zanna found the basket for Ioannis Kastritis’s squad but Scottie Wilbekin hit a runner at the end of frame to cut the lead to 23-18 after ten minutes of play.
Elsewhere, Hapoel Jerusalem easily disposed of Ness Ziona 114-87 to advance to the Final Four and earn a semifinal date with Maccabi Rishon Lezion. The Reds took control of the game in the second quarter and went 21-of-42 (50%) from beyond the arc as Oded Katash’s squad cruised to the 27-point victory.
Jeremy Pargo led the Reds with 22 points, going 6-of-8 from long distance, Nimrod Levi added 21 points, Tamir Blatt scored 16 points and dished out eight assists, while Suleiman Braimoh chipped in with 14 points in the win.
JP Tokoto scored 23 points as Cameron Oliver and Raviv Limonad each scored 15 points as Ness Ziona was bounced from the playoffs.
“His shots went in,” said Katash about Pargo. “It’s not so much about his shots that I was concerned with but how he was getting into the flow of the game which he did nicely along with his defensive prowess. He looks more comfortable and one good game can also give him the confidence he needs, even for veterans this is important.”
Meanwhile, Hapoel Gilboa/Galil easily disposed of Hapoel Holon 99-65 at Gan Ner in the Galilee to force a winner-take-all Game 3 on Thursday night in Ashdod.
After a close first 10 minutes, the hosts rattled off 69 points over the following two frames thanks to a tremendous offensive outburst from Michael Young (18 points, eight rebounds), Akil Mitchell (16 points), Tim Coleman (15 points), Amit Gershon (15 points), Joe Thomason (13 points) and Iftach Ziv (13 points, 10 assists) to cruise to the 34-point win.
Guy Pnini was Holon’s high scorer with 11 points.
“We know we can play good basketball,” said Mitchell following the win. “I saw these guys in practice and I can see what they can do. I believe in our potential and as the eldest guy on the team we got together and said look if we play hard and we leave it out there every game we’ll live with the results and the results have gotten us here.”
Also, Rishon Lezion punched its ticket to the Final Four with a 101-82 win over Maccabi Haifa to sweep the best-of-3 series two games to none.
After a close first half that saw the Greens in front 43-42 thanks to Speedy Smith and Andrew Andrews, Rishon turned up the offense as Alex Hamilton, Darryl Monroe and D’Angelo Harrison dominated the second half to run away with the 19-point victory.
Hamilton led the way with 26 points and six assists, Monroe added 25 points, four rebounds, five assists and four steals, while Harrison chipped in with 13 points, six boards, six helpers and four steals in the win.
Smith was the Haifa high scorer with 21 points and Reggie Upshaw added 16 points in the defeat.
“We won and that’s what is most important,” said Monroe following the game. “I’m very excited for my teammates as we head to another Final Four. Coach knew what we needed to do and he said at the half that we have 20 more minutes to get to the semifinals and we came out on fire in the second half.”