Maccabi TA books its Final 4 spot

Drama as Gershon’s boys come back to edge Hasharon in Game 5; Holon stays up.

Maccabi Tel Aviv Alan Anderson 311 (photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
Maccabi Tel Aviv Alan Anderson 311
(photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
Maccabi Tel Aviv survived a massive scare on Monday night, coming back from a double-digit half-time deficit to beat Bnei Hasharon 71-69 at the Nokia Arena and advance to the BSL Final Four with a dramatic quarterfinal series Game 5 victory.
Maccabi trailed by as many as 14 points in the second quarter and Bnei Hasharon still held the lead with 10 minutes remaining.
The encounter would be decided in the final minute and Bnei Hasharon had its chance to shock Israeli basketball to its core. However, Ron Steele missed a wide-open three-point attempt with 40 seconds remaining that would have given the visitors the lead and Guy Pnini showed him how it’s done with a clutch triple at the other end.
After winning the series 3-2, Tel Aviv will now face Barak Netanya in next Tuesday’s Final Four, with Hapoel Jerusalem to play Hapoel Gilboa/Galil in the other semifinal.
Alan Anderson had 16 points for Maccabi, with D’or Fischer adding 14 points and 15 rebounds.
Steele scored 19 points for Bnei Hasharon, with Shawn James contributing 18 points and 11 rebounds for Dan Shamir’s team, which exceeded all expectations by pushing Maccabi so close to elimination.
Also Monday, Hapoel Holon defeated Ironi Nahariya 75-64 on the road, clinching a 3-2 victory in the relegation playoffs to maintain its BSL status for one more season.
Holon outscored Nahariya 24-4 in the third quarter and staved off a late comeback to avoid relegation despite ending the regular season in last place.
Maccabi Tel Aviv 71,
Bnei Hasharon 69
Maccabi looked to get off to a quick start and opened an early 9-4 lead. However, the visitors scored the next seven points and sent an early message that they will not give up without a fight.
Bnei Hasharon never allowed Maccabi to find its range and James’s basket to end the first period gave the visitors a 23-21 margin after 10 minutes.
The pressure was getting to Tel Aviv, with Pini Gershon’s men going more than seven minutes before hitting their first field-goal of the second quarter.
Bnei Hasharon wasn’t firing on all cylinders itself, but it slowly extended its advantage and was ahead 34-22 after Steele’s free throws with three minutes to play in the half.
Shamir’s team still held a double-figure cushion (43-32) at the interval and Ori Itzhaki’s basket at the start of the second half gave the visitors their biggest lead of the night (46-32).
However, Bnei Hasharon couldn’t make the most of Maccabi’s struggles and Derrick Sharp’s lay-up gave the hosts renewed hope, cutting the deficit to seven points (46-39) with 3:46 to play in the quarter.
Suddenly, Maccabi couldn’t miss and two straight three-pointers by Anderson followed by another triple from Sharp tied the score at 48-48.
Bnei Hasharon still led at the end of the period (52-51), but a Doron Perkins three to end the third period meant the momentum was well and truly on Maccabi’s side entering the fourth stanza.
Anderson’s accurate free throws at the beginning of the quarter gave Tel Aviv its first lead since the first period, but the hosts couldn’t build a substantial margin and the game remained tight until the closing stages.
The lead exchanged hands several times and Maccabi had the edge entering the final two minutes after a Sharp three (66-64).
Neither team managed to score in its subsequent possession, with Steele missing a wide-open three attempt that could have given his side the advantage with 40 seconds to play.
Bnei Hasharon would live to rue the miss, with Pnini hitting a triple with 17 seconds remaining to open a five-point gap and clinch a Final Four berth.
Hapoel Holon 75,
Ironi Nahariya 64
After a tight start, Holon edged ahead in the closing minutes of the first period and led 24-18 entering the second quarter.
A 14-2 run to start the second frame gave Nahariya the initiative and the hosts outscored Holon 23-7 in the period to take a double-digit margin (41-31) into the break.
However, Nahariya would score just four points in the next 10 minutes, losing control of the encounter.
The hosts still led by eight points (45-37) three minutes into the second half, but Holon dominated the remainder of the quarter, going on a 21-0 run to open a significant gap (58-45).
Nahariya ate away at the margin as the fourth period progressed, with Steven Smith’s jumper bringing the hosts within two points (66-64) with 90 seconds to play. However, Nahariya would not come any closer and Holon held on for a priceless victory.
Wykeen Kelly led the winners with 16 points, with Paul Delaney scoring 20 points for Nahariya, which will have to rebuild in the National League next season after 10 years in the BSL.