Mac TA hangs on, completes Hapoel sweep

Mac Haifa also advances unscathed; Netanya stays alive vs Jerusalem; Eilat takes 2-1 lead.

David Logan and Demontez Stitt 370 (photo credit: Adi Avishai)
David Logan and Demontez Stitt 370
(photo credit: Adi Avishai)
Maccabi Tel Aviv and Maccabi Haifa survived scares to book their places in the BSL semifinals on Thursday night, completing 3-0 sweeps in the quarters.
Hapoel Tel Aviv gave its vastly richer and more illustrious cross-town rival a run for its money for a third straight game, but Maccabi eked out yet another victory, winning 76-74 at Nokia Arena.
Maccabi awaits the winner of the series between Barak Netanya and Hapoel Jerusalem, with Netanya remaining alive with a 92-69 home win in Game 3 to cut the deficit to 2-1.
Haifa defeated a feisty Hapoel Gilboa/Galil team 93-87 to advance to the semis where it will play either Hapoel Eilat or Maccabi Rishon Lezion.
Eilat took a 2-1 lead in the series on Thursday with a 69-67 win.
Hapoel dominated the first half of Thursday’s Tel Aviv derby, taking a 44- 38 gap into the break after leading by as many as 10 points. Hapoel’s margin reached 10 points once more in the third quarter (50-40), but Maccabi came back to lead by a single point (55-54) entering the fourth period and maintained a slender cushion throughout the frame to secure its progress.
Ricky Hickman led Maccabi with 20 points, with Shawn James scoring 17.
Brian Randle had 19 points and 13 rebounds for Hapoel, which deserves every credit for its brave effort despite being swept.
Haifa got the game off to a strong start, but a 9-0 Gilboa run gave the visitors the edge (16-15) and there was very little to separate the teams in the remainder of the first half, with the Greens taking a one-point lead (41-40) into the break.
The hosts increased their gap in the closing stages of the third quarter to eight points (69-61), but Gilboa closed back within a single point after scoring the first seven points of the fourth frame.
However, the visitors could not complete the comeback, with Haifa hitting eight of eight free throws in the final minute to clinch the win.
Pat Calathes was superb for Haifa, ending the night with 32 points, 12 rebounds and five assists. Paul Stoll added 20 points for Brad Greenberg’s team, while Mitchell Watt had 17 points for Gilboa.
Eilat is one win away from booking a meeting with Haifa in the semis after edging Rishon Lezion in Game 3.
A 14-2 Rishon run tied the score at 46- 46, but the visitors couldn’t pull out the win after going neck-and-neck with Eilat throughout the fourth period, with the hosts making fewer mistakes in the final minute.
Ezequiel Skverer and Afik Nissim had 14 points each for Eilat, with Adrian Uter scoring 24 for Rishon, which hosts Game 4 next week.
Netanya avoided elimination in emphatic fashion on Thursday, crushing Jerusalem, which suffered from quarreling in its roster during Game 3, and not for the first time this season.
Jerusalem’s Samardo Samuels and Courtney Fells exchanged heated words during a timeout and had to be separated by teammates.
Deron Washington netted 25 points for Netanya, with Marco Killingsworth finishing the game with 22 points and nine rebounds.
Elishay Kadir had 17 points for Jerusalem, which can close out the series at home next week, but will need to first get all its players back on the same page.