Gilboa, Rishon join Maccabi, Hapoel in Final Four

Hapoel Gilboa/Galil, Maccabi Rishon Lezion both wrap up 3-1 series wins, booking the final two tickets for the Final Four at Nokia Arena.

Hapoel Gilboa center Ido Kuzikaro 311 (photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
Hapoel Gilboa center Ido Kuzikaro 311
(photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
Hapoel Gilboa/Galil and Maccabi Rishon Lezion both wrapped up 3-1 series wins on Sunday night, booking the final two tickets for next week’s Final Four at Nokia Arena.
Gilboa beat Hapoel Holon 72-65 on the road to advance to its third straight Final Four, while Rishon recorded a late comeback to defeat Bnei Hasharon 105-95 in overtime at home to reach the showcase event of Israeli basketball for the first time since 2006.
Gilboa will face Hapoel Jerusalem in the semifinals next Tuesday in a repeat of last year’s Final Four meeting won by the reigning-champion, with Rishon to come up against Maccabi Tel Aviv.
Also Sunday, Maccabi Haifa secured itself another season of top-flight basketball, beating Ironi Ashkelon 96-89 away from home to clinch a 3-1 series conquest.
Ashkelon held a double-digit gap at the break (50-38), but was outscored 33-19 in the third period and Haifa wrapped up the win in the final 10 minutes.
Tyler Wilkerson scored 24 points for Haifa, with Sylven Landesberg adding 22 points.
Cory Carr had 21 points for Ashkelon, which will be hoping the BSL decides to expand the league and grant it another season in the top-flight.
Gilboa, which has now reached four of the last five Final Four’s, going all the way last season, trailed Holon for much of Sunday’s game, but ended it with a 13-2 run to finish Holon’s magical season.
Gal Mekel had 19 points, six assists and six rebounds for Gilboa, with Marco Killingsworth scoring 14 points.
Rich Melzer had 25 points for Holon, which faced financial meltdown midway through the season but still managed to make the quarterfinal playoffs.
At Rishon, the visitors held a 43-36 margin at the break and seemed to be on their way to tying the series after taking an 83-75 lead with 1:40 to play.
However, Bnei Hasahron failed to close out the game and Isaiah Swann’s free-throws with 1.7 seconds to play tied the score at 88-88 and sent the encounter into overtime.
The extra five minutes were dominated by the hosts, whose fans can finally look forward to a Final Four after five seasons of watching it on TV.
Swann led Rishon with 34 points, with Dwayne Mitchell recording a sensational triple-double of 20 points, 13 rebounds and 11 assists.
Ron Steele and Dan Grunfeld had 28 points each for Bnei Hasharon, which will be bitterly disappointed with missing the Final Four for a third consecutive year.