Local Hoops: Jerusalem hopes to bring out the brooms
Hapoel is the only team to claim a home victory in the quarterfinal playoffs to date.
By ALLON SINAI
Hapoel Jerusalem will look to become the first team to book its place in the BSL Final Four on Thursday night.
Jerusalem hosts Ironi Nahariya in Game 3 of its quarterfinal playoff series and can give itself almost two weeks of rest ahead of the semifinals should it triumph and complete a 3-0 sweep.
Guy Goodes' team is a perfect 12-0 at the Malha Arena in the regular season and playoffs, but only barely defeated Nahariya 78-76 in Game 1 of the series, after Ironi's Ron Lewis missed a three-pointer for the shock victory at the buzzer.
"We want to save our fans another trip up to the North and I feel that at home we're definitely the favorites to wrap up the series," Jerusalem center Torin Francis said.
Unbelievably, Hapoel is the only team to claim a home victory in the quarterfinal playoffs to date, with the three other first-round matchups tied 1-1.
Maccabi Tel Aviv will be very confident of taking a 2-1 lead in the best-of-five series over Ironi Ashkelon when it hosts Game 3 at the Nokia Arena on Thursday.
Maccabi thrashed Ashkelon 86-69 on the road in Game 2, rebounding from its stunning overtime home defeat in the series opener.
Despite losing Game 1, Tel Aviv was never really concerned it wouldn't be able to advance to the Final Four, which wasn't the case with Hapoel Holon and Maccabi Haifa.
Holon and Haifa knew they had to win Game 2 on the road if they wanted to maintain a reasonable chance of progressing, and both recorded tight away victories over Hapoel Galil/Gilboa and Bnei Hasharon, respectively, to regain home-court advantage.
On Thursday, Holon and Haifa return home and will be hoping that this time they can win to take a crucial 2-1 advantage ahead of Sunday's Game 4.
Hasharon was so close to taking Game 2 in Ra'anana, losing by four points after holding a lead late in the fourth quarter. The third-seeded club will come out with confidence against the higher-rankeed Haifa, with its Game 1 victory still in their minds. Seemingly ageless guard, Meir Tapiro and fellow veteran, forward Ira Newble, will have to bring their A games to avoid going in the hole 2-1 in the pivotal third-vs-sixth place series.
Also Thursday, Maccabi Givat Shmuel and Ironi Kiryat Ata will be relegated to the National League if they don't win.
Ironi Ramat Gan will be a big favorite to complete a 3-0 series victory when it hosts Kiryat Ata, with Maccabi Rishon Lezion looking to claim its second away win of its series against Givat Shmuel to ensure itself another season of BSL basketball.
Sherf names Israel's preliminary 24-man roster for EuroBasket
National team coach Tzvika Sherf announced a 24-man preliminary roster on Wednesday for September's European Championships in Poland.
Israel was drawn to face Greece, Croatia and Macedonia in the EuroBasket tournament, which will be its ninth consecutive participation in the European Championships.
Maccabi Tel Aviv's Tal Burstein returns to the roster after missing out on recent campaigns because of injuries, with his Maccabi teammate Dror Hagag and Hapoel Jerusalem's Sharon Sasson and Erez Markovitch among the notable absentees.
Hapoel Galil/Gilboa playmaker Gal Mekel was called up to the first team after his excellent season under the guidance of coach Oded Katash.
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