State Cup Hoops: Maccabi Tel Aviv cruises into semis

Marcus Fizer scores 20 points in 100-92 win over Galil Elyon; Maccabi, Hapoel J'lem joined in next round by Hapoel Holon, Hapoel Afula/Gilboa.

Mac TA 224.88 (photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
Mac TA 224.88
(photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
Despite its off-court troubles, Maccabi Tel Aviv cruised into the semifinals of the State Cup on Sunday, completing a double victory over Hapoel Galil Elyon. Will Bynum may have to remain in prison, but against Galil his team easily managed without him, winning 100-92 at Kfar Blum. Maccabi was never in any real danger of squandering its nine-point first leg lead (90-81) and Tzvika Sherf was pleased with the victory in his first game as the team's coach in Israel since replacing Oded Katash last week. "We won a game that could have turned out to have been tricky," Sherf said. "We tried to ignore everything that has happened and we succeeded." Of Bynum, Sherf said: "We decided that only Shimon Mizrahi will speak on this subject, but I can definitely say that we have no intention of releasing him or Vonteego Cummings at the moment." Maccabi Tel Aviv and Hapoel Jerusalem, which advanced on Saturday, will be joined in the semifinals by Hapoel Holon and Hapoel Afula/Gilboa, which easily held on to their big first leg leads on Sunday night. Maccabi Tel Aviv 100, Hapoel Galil Elyon 92 Gili Mosinzon got the hosts off to a quick start and his lay-up two-and-a-half minutes into the encounter gave Galil a six point lead (8-2). Maccabi would, however, quickly close the deficit and Terence Morris' four straight points opened a 17-13 advantage. The visitors led by one point (26-25) after 10 minutes, but Mosinzon single handedly kept his team in the game and his three point move to start the second period gave Hapoel the lead once again (28-26). That would prove, however, to be Galil's last lead of the night after Tel Aviv seized control of the game with a 10-2 run (36-30). Clif Brown's two points four minutes into the second quarter brought Galil within two points of Maccabi (40-38), but Yotam Halperin's three-pointer in the dying seconds of the half opened a 10 point (53-43) margin at the break and all but ended the hosts hopes of a stunning turnaround. Maccabi's first half margin coupled with its first leg nine-point lead meant the second half was clear sailing for the visitors, who will be hoping their off-court troubles will have ended by the time they face Unicaja Malaga in the Euroleague on Thursday. Marcus Fizer led Maccabi with 20 points, with Mike Campbell scoring 24 points for the hosts. Ironi Ramat Gan 84,Hapoel Holon 84 Hapoel Holon's 87-58 win in the first leg rendered the return leg almost meaningless, especially after Ramat Gan failed to open-up a substantial lead in the first half (39-36). The game continued to remain close in the second half and it was only fitting that the encounter should end in a tie. Chester Simmons led Holon with 32 points, with Michael Kuebler scoring 19 points for Ramat Gan. Ironi Nahariya 88, Hapoel Afula/Gilboa 86 Nahariya was hoping to eat into Afula/Gilboa's 18 points first leg lead (96-78) right from the beginning of Sunday's encounter, but it was the visitors who got off to the better start. Afula/Gilboa led 27-17 after 10 minutes and despite trailing by four points at the break (46-42), remained in control of the tie. As the second half progressed it became clearer that Nahariya wasn't going to erase the first leg deficit, leaving the hosts with nothing more than to regret their big loss two weeks ago. Ashante Johnson scored 28 points for Ironi, with Lamont Jones leading Afula/Gilboa with 19 points.