Basketball / Israel League / Tzionim, Holy Rollers Triumph in Playoff Upsets

Hitminions and Morashragas will join the giantkillers at the Championship Weekend.

The Tzionim and Holy Rollers each had upset wins over higher playoff seeds, to advance to the Final Four in the Red & Doctor Murray’s Israel Basketball League. Joining them at Championship Weekend will be the Hitminions and Morashragas.

The number two seed, Hitminions, faced Cafe Rimon, a team that league insiders considered the tournament’s “sleeper.” Sure enough, Cafe Rimon stayed neck-and-neck throughout the game, and took the lead with several minutes to play. The Hitminions kept the cooler heads, though, with Jason Allen dominating in the post, Ethan Gipsman creating points with running drives to the hoop, and captain Dovid Oratz hitting clutch jumpers, to earn the 53-48 win. 

In pole position, the Morashragas were expected to cruise through the quarterfinals, but the eighth-seeded Chocolatiers kept things interesting, with a bombs-away three-pointer strategy. Leading by only a bucket at halftime, Morashragas gambled with a risky defensive adjustment, leaving gaping holes in the medium range in order to double-team beyond the arc. Chocolatiers' possessions became a frantic game of cat-and-mouse, with Morashragas successfully shifting to close the gaps, and pulling away on offense for a 59-39 victory.

The most exciting quarterfinals game pitted Holy Rollers against experienced, battle-tested Lobos. With Holy Rollers ahead and the clock running down, Yitz Weider and Nissi Merenstein led a Lobos rally to tie the game, just as time expired. However, the Rollers finally pulled away, ending the veterans’ season, 45-41, in overtime.

In a 6-over-3 upset, captain Shlomi Liff led the Tzionim to a the Final Four big lead, then closed out the Mad Chillers, 49-38. The Tzionim now take on the Hitminions in the semis, while Morashragas host the Holy Rollers.  Meanwhile, in the AFI Cup Tier-II Playoffs, Philips Israel edged the Mevasseret Mavericks 57-55, to advance to the semifinals against Sam’s Bagels/Apek, while Israel Sports Exchange moved past the Trumanaires, 53-41, to set up a showdown with top-seeded Uncle Drews.