Maccabi Tel Aviv the favorite as BSL playoffs begin
"Should we get passed Netanya the Final Four is just like any other cup competition, but we will be ready for that as well," says Maccabi coach.
By ALLON SINAI
The BSL playoffs will get underway on Tuesday night with what is expected to be the most one-sided of the four quarterfinal series.Maccabi Tel Aviv, which ended the regular season with a 26-1 record, hosts Barak Netanya in Game 1 of its best-of-five series at Nokia Arena on Tuesday, hoping to improve to 5-0 against Eric Alfasi’s team this season.None of the previous four meetings between the sides has been close, as Maccabi walloped Netanya by 48 points (117-69) in their first clash, before claiming an easy 85-71 win on the road in January and thrashing Alfasi’s men by 36 points (106-70) in February’s State Cup final.Tel Aviv also defeated Netanya 92-60 in the league just two weeks ago, and anything but an easy 3-0 sweep in the playoffs will be a massive surprise.“This is a very exciting time for all of the teams,” Maccabi coach David Blatt said. “The league would have little meaning without the quarterfinal playoffs. Should we get passed Netanya the Final Four is just like any other cup competition, but we will be ready for that as well.”Netanya has lost four of its past five games and only barely snuck into the quarterfinal playoffs, finishing one game ahead of ninth-placed Maccabi Haifa.“I think that we must take this series seriously,” said Maccabi forward Lior Eliyahu, who together with his teammates has surely already got at least one eye on next weekend’s Euroleague Final Four. “The series depends on us and if we play our basketball the way we have all season long we will qualify for the BSL Final Four.”AdvertisementThe playoffs will continue on Wednesday when reigning- champion Hapoel Gilboa/Galil, which has won six of seven games, hosts Hapoel Holon, which has lost six of seven contests, including at Gilboa just five days ago.On Thursday, Bnei Hasharon welcomes Maccabi Rishon Lezion and Hapoel Jerusalem hosts Maccabi Ashdod at Malha Arena, while Maccabi Haifa faces Ironi Ashkelon in the relegation playoffs.
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