J’lem to face Haifa in cup semis

Jerusalem crashed to a 17- point defeat to Ashdod SC, but it steamrolled Eilat, effectively clinching the win by halftime.

Hapoel Jerusalem 370 (photo credit: ALLON SINAI)
Hapoel Jerusalem 370
(photo credit: ALLON SINAI)
Hapoel Jerusalem will face Maccabi Haifa in the State Cup semifinals on Tuesday after both teams recorded convincing victories in the quarterfinals on Saturday.
Just five days after what coach Sharon Drucker described as one of his team’s worse displays of the season, Jerusalem recorded one of its best at Malha Arena on Saturday, thrashing Hapoel Eilat 86-70.
Jerusalem crashed to a 17- point BSL defeat to Ashdod SC last Monday, but it steamrolled Eilat, effectively clinching the win by halftime.
An early 11-2 run by the hosts capped by a Courtney Fells three-pointer opened a nine-point gap (15- 6) and Jerusalem led 21-13 after 10 minutes.
Four straight points by Craig Smith to start the second quarter further extended the margin, which reached an unassailable 20 points (41-21) following another Fells triple with 3:55 still to play in the first half.
Smith ended the game with 20 points, with Josh Duncan and Jacob Pullen scoring 15 points each and Raviv Limonad adding 14 points.
“This was a momentous win for us,” said Drucker.
“There was no way back from this game and everyone understood its importance.
We played well on defense and showed character tonight and we deserved to reach the semifinals.”
Afik Nissim had 23 points for Eilat, which looked lost without star swingman Scotty Hopson after he broke a finger during training last week.
Haifa had just a five-point edge (62-57) after three tight quarters in Herzliya, but dominated the final frame.
A Gal Mekel three capped a 15-4 run (77-61) midway through the period and Herzliya couldn’t muster a comeback.
Pat Calathes had 24 points and 10 rebounds for Haifa, with Jerome Thomas adding 20 points and nine boards.
Jumaine Jones led Herzliya with 24 points and 14 rebounds, but Haifa held the BSL’s leading scorer, Romel Beck, to just six points.
On Sunday, an upbeat Maccabi Tel Aviv hosts Hapoel Holon at Nokia Arena in the quarterfinals.
Maccabi got back to winning ways in the Euroleague with a comfortable 77-55 thrashing of Besiktas JK in Istanbul on Thursday and will be looking to really kickstart its Top 16 campaign when it hosts Barcelona next Thursday.
However, it will first want to take care of local business this week by lifting the State Cup for a fourth straight year.
Maccabi or Holon will face in Tuesday’s semis the winner of Sunday’s other quarterfinal between Maccabi Be’er Ya’akov, the only remaining National League representative, and Maccabi Ashdod.
Tel Aviv announced on Saturday that it had parted ways with Malcolm Thomas.