Hap J’lem, Mac TA to duel for Winner Cup

Reds knock off Holon as yellow-and-blue ousts Eilat to set up compelling, albeit expected, final.

ELISHAY KADIR 370 (photo credit: Adi Avishai)
(photo credit: Adi Avishai)
Maccabi Tel Aviv and Hapoel Jerusalem will face off in the pre-season Winner Cup final for the first time in three years on Thursday night after recording convincing wins in the semifinals in Rishon Lezion on Wednesday.
Maccabi’s win over Hapoel Eilat was never in doubt after the yellow-andblue steamrolled the southerners in the first quarter (25-7) on the way to an 85-65 victory.
A dominant fourth period saw Jerusalem claim a 72-58 win over Hapoel Holon to set up an intriguing showdown on Thursday.
After meeting time and again in BSL, State Cup and Winner Cup finals over the past two decades, Jerusalem’s decline in recent seasons has meant that the old rivals haven’t clashed in a final since the 2010 pre-season tournament.
However, Hapoel’s rebuilt roster has so far shown promising signs under the guidance of new coach Brad Greenberg and will be hoping to make a statement against Maccabi in Rishon on Thursday.
“I loved our toughness,” said Greenberg on Wednesday. “We got behind early after turning the ball over too many times, but we were much more disciplined with handling the ball and much stronger defensively in the second half.”
Eilat’s offense was paralyzed by Maccabi in the first five minutes of the second semi, allowing the yellow-and-blue to open an early 13-0 lead.
Eilat had no answer to Jake Cohen and Shawn James and found itself in a deep hole after taking more than five minutes to score its first points of the night.
Tel Aviv’s margin continued to grow after Sylven Landesberg came off the bench firing on all cylinders, scoring eight quick points to take the gap to 19 points (23-4).
Devin Smith didn’t score even a single point for Maccabi in the first quarter after netting 28 against Hapoel Tel Aviv two days earlier. However, with Eilat being limited to just two baskets from 14 shots in the first frame, Maccabi still cruised to a 25-7 cushion.
The margin crossed 20 points (31-9) after Joe Ingles’s three-pointer and Landesberg took his tally for the first half to 15 points to ensure Maccabi was still comfortably in front (46-32) at the interval.
Eilat scored the first four points of the second half to cut the deficit to 10, but it would come no closer and Maccabi sailed to another easy win.
Landesberg ended the game with 17 points, with Ingles scoring 15.
Kevin Palmer had 15 points for Eilat.
There was nothing to separate Jerusalem and Holon at halftime of the first semi, with Ronald Dupree’s basket tying the score at 34-34.
Despite shooting well, 10 turnovers in the first half meant Jerusalem couldn’t shake Holon, which hit just 9-of-25 shots from the field. However, Greenberg’s players regained their composure after the break and opened a doubledigit margin (48-38) with a 10-2 run capped by an Elishay Kadir basket.
Eilat closed to within five points (50- 45) by the end of the third quarter and was within a single possession early in the fourth after Isaac Rosefelt’s basket.
However, Eilat would manage just seven points in the first seven minutes of the final frame and a 17-5 Jerusalem surge opened a 15-point gap (67-52) from which the southerners were never going to return.
Josh Duncan and Kadir scored 14 points each for Jerusalem, with Dupree adding 13 points and Artsiom Parakhouski contributing 12 points.
Anthony Goods led Holon with 16 points.
Maccabi Haifa continued its US tour on Tuesday, dropping to a 91-69 defeat to the Detroit Pistons a day after being trounced 130-89 by the Phoenix Suns.
Haifa will return to Israel after facing the Memphis Grizzlies on October 13.
Wednesday’s results: Winner Cup semifinals: Hapoel Jerusalem 72, Hapoel Holon 58; Maccabi Tel Aviv 85, Hapoel Eilat 65.
Thursday on TV: Winner Cup final: Hapoel Jerusalem vs Maccabi Tel Aviv (live on Sport5 at 8:45 p.m.)