Gilboa/Galil into Final Four, Hapoel falters

Rishon stays alive with Game 3 road victory over Jerusalem; Ashkelon swept away.

Hapoel Gilboa Galil mekel 311 (photo credit: BSL)
Hapoel Gilboa Galil mekel 311
(photo credit: BSL)
Hapoel Gilboa/Galil became the first team to progress to the BSL Final Four on Monday night, while Maccabi Tel Aviv and Hapoel Jerusalem still need one more win to advance to the season-ending tournament.
Gilboa dominated Ironi Ashkelon once more, winning 94-76 at Gan Ner to clinch a 3-0 series sweep.
“We’ve met our first target which was to reach the Final Four,” said Gilboa coach Oded Katash. “I’m very proud of the way my players played in this series. We were ready from Game 1.”
Katash will be guiding Gilboa in the Final Four for the third time in his career, and with his opponent in the semifinals to come from the series between Jerusalem and Maccabi Rishon Lezion, he is hopeful this will be the year he reaches the title game for the first time.
“The most important thing is to peak during money time,” Katash said. “In the Final Four anything can happen and I hope luck will be on our side.”
Jerusalem also had the chance to book its place in the Final Four on Monday, but Guy Goodes’s team fell in an 87-78 overtime loss to Rishon at the Malha Arena and faces a tricky Game 4 on the road on Thursday.
Tel Aviv will be far more confident of advancing on Thursday after taking a 2-1 series lead over Bnei Hasharon with a 104-82 victory at Nokia Arena.
Also Monday, Ironi Nahariya beat Hapoel Holon 82-76 at Ein Sara to move 2-1 in front in the relegation playoffs.
Steven Smith and Lamarr Greer had 22 points each for Nahariya, with Sasa Bratic scoring 20 points for Holon, which will have to win the next two games in the series if it’s to avoid relegation just two years after winning the championship.
Maccabi Rishon Lezion 87,
Hapoel Jerusalem 78 (OT)
After a tight start, Rishon went on a 7-0 run to end the first period and led 24-16 after 10 minutes. Hapoel had little trouble tying the score in the second quarter, but the visitors still had the edge at the break, leading 39-36 thanks in large part to Yehu Orland, who scored four of five attempts from beyond the arc.
Jerusalem seized the initiative in the third quarter and was ahead by eight points (50-42) at one stage. However, Rishon came right back and another three-pointer by Orland brought it to within two points (56-54) with 10 minutes to play.
The hosts led for most of the fourth, but only by slender margins and the game came down to the final minute.
Ogonna Onyekwe’s basket with 15.2 seconds remaining put the visitors in front (70-68), but Pooh Jeter tied the score from the free-throw line two seconds later and the encounter had to be decided in overtime after Darrel Tucker missed at the buzzer.
The extra five minutes were dominated by Orland, who added three more triples to his account to keep Effi Birenboim’s team alive.
Orland ended the game with 26 points, hitting eight of 15 three-point shots. Aaron McGhee added 14 points and 12 rebounds for Rishon, with Uri Kukia and Tre Simmons scoring 19 points each for Jerusalem, which still has plenty of work to do before it books its place in the Final Four.
Hapoel Gilboa/Galil 94,
Ironi Ashkelon 76
The hosts were in control from the start, leading 26-16 after the first period. Ashkelon continued to trail by double-digits in the remainder of the first half as Gilboa took a comfortable 48-35 gap into the interval and sailed in the second half on its way to the Final Four.
Brian Randle had 24 points for Gilboa, with Guni Izraeli and Dion Dowell adding 17 points each for Katash’s side, which won all three games by double-digits.
Brooks Sales scored 20 points for Ashkelon, which will be disappointed with being swept, but overall pleased with its season.
Maccabi Tel Aviv 104,
Bnei Hasharon 82
The yellow-and-blue opened an early cushion, leading 27-16 at the endof the first quarter. Bnei Hasharon closed to within six points on acouple of occasions in the second period, but Maccabi’s superiority wasnever under any doubt and Pini Gershon’s men led 53-40 at the break andcruised to another easy victory.
Doron Perkins had 21 points for Maccabi, with P.J. Tucker and Ron Steele scoring 18 points each for Bnei Hasharon.