Handball / Semifinals / Maccabi Rishon sweeps away Maccabi Tel Aviv
Hapoel Rishon Letzion took the lead in its series with ASA Tel Aviv, winning 36-29.
Maccabi Rishon Letzion got off to a quick start and withstood a comeback attempt by Maccabi Tel Aviv to win 29-24 Friday and complete a 2-0 sweep to reach handball's Premier League finals.
Maccabi Tel Aviv started by losing possession of the ball several times, which turned into Rishon fast breaks. "I have no explanation for the opening," said Maccabi Tel Aviv's Itizk Halifi about falling behind 6-0 in the first few minutes.
Maccabi eventually tied the game at 13-all, but after the break the visitors took control of the contest behind Marian Filip, Ioan Rosca and goalkeeper Iulian Strat. The game also turned a little violent as Tel Aviv's Novak Boskovic and Rishon's Ofer Luzon and Chen Birnbaum all drew red cards, and there were a slew of two-minute penalties.
"The meetings between Maccabi Rishon Letzion and Maccabi Tel Aviv have turned in the modern era into a derby," said visiting player Gal Avraham.
The loss of two players knocked Rishon off balance, allowing Tel Aviv to close the gap to 26-23, but the hosts resumed their turnover ways. Amir Langlive and Avraham scored in the final two minutes to seal the victory and Maccabi Rishon's place in the final.
Avraham and Filip both finished with a game-leading eight goals, while Rosca added seven.
Halifi said his team failed to do the right things in the closing minutes. "We did some great things this season," he added. "We have an amazing team. We'll be back next season refreshed and full of motivation."
In the other semifinal Friday, Hapoel Rishon Letzion took the lead in its series with ASA Tel Aviv, winning 36-29. The two teams tied in the first game and will face off in Game 3.