Maccabi TA punches ticket to preseason final

Maccabi Tel Aviv survived a scare before overcoming Maccabi Haifa to advance to preseason Winner Cup final.

DIAMON SIMPSON 370 (photo credit: Oded Karni/BSL)
(photo credit: Oded Karni/BSL)
Maccabi Tel Aviv survived a scare before overcoming Maccabi Haifa to advance to the preseason Winner Cup final on Thursday night, setting up a meeting with Maccabi Ashdod on Saturday in a repeat of last season’s BSL championship game.
Haifa led by as many as eight points in the fourth quarter, but a 19-4 Tel Aviv run clinched an 86-79 win in Haifa’s Romema Arena.
Ashdod dominated Hapoel Jerusalem in the first semi of the evening, claiming a 69-59 victory.
Tel Aviv, playing without the injured Devin Smith and new signing Malcolm Thomas, who only arrived in Israel on Thursday, led for much of the first half, but it held just a one-point advantage (45-44) at the break.
A Donta Smith three-pointer capped a 10-2 Haifa run to start the second half, giving the Greens a promising 54-47 lead.
Haifa took a five-point cushion (66-61) into the fourth quarter and another threepoint play by Smith increased its gap to 72-64.
However, David Logan would catch fire in the closing stages, scoring a quick 11 points to lead Tel Aviv to the win.
Logan led five Tel Aviv players in double-figures with 16 points, while Smith scored 27 for Haifa. Ashdod seized control of the first semi with an 18- 2 run in the first period, opening a 23-6 lead. Kenny Gabriel’s two points took the gap to 20 points (31-11) early in the second quarter and Ashdod cruised after that.
Ashdod’s Diamon Simpson proved his quality for a second straight game, scoring 19 points and taking nine rebounds.
Chris Allen added 15 points for Ashdod, while Raviv Limonad had 12 points for Jerusalem, which shot a shocking 14 percent (3 of 22) from three-point range.
“We had an excellent first half and it was only natural that Jerusalem would fight back in the second,” said Ashdod coach Ofer Berkowitz.
“Even though the second half wasn’t as good as the first, it actually encourages me more than the first because the players didn’t allow Jerusalem back into the game.”