Basketball / Super League Quarterfinals / Maccabi Tel Aviv, Hap. Eilat Advance

Netanya cools off Hapoel Jerusalem in Super League quarterfinals

Maccabi Haifa held off a belated comeback attempt by Gilboa/Galil to prevail 93-87 and become the first Super League club to advance to the semifinals. Maccabi Tel Aviv completed its own second-half rally to win 76-74 and sweep Hapoel Tel Aviv from the playoffs.

Down south, Eilat survived Rishon Letzion’s second-half surge to eke out a 69-67 victory that put it back up 2-1 in their best-of-five series.

Netanya, meanwhile, finally found away to pick apart Hapoel Jerusalem’s defense to win convincingly 92-69 and narrow their series deficit to 2-1.

Maccabi Haifa had a tough time shaking off Gilboa, even though it held the lead for most of the game. Haifa fell behind 36-32 late in the second quarter before Paul Stoll’s three-pointer sparked a nine-point run. Yet, Gilboa fought right back and retook the lead early in the third period.

Haifa recaptured the lead for good at 56-55 and went up by as much as 10 points at 69-59, only to see Gilboa shrink its advantage back to one on a 9-0 streak, capped by a Jamar Smith field goal. But Gilboa was unable to get back in front as Pat Calathes, who finished with a game-leading 32 points, answered every threat to its lead.

“A few of our guys have aches and pains so it will be good for them to have a few days to recover,” Calathes said on Sport 5 television after the game. “On offense we’re at the top of our game.

In the contest between host Netanya and Hapoel Jerusalem, the visitors looked like they had for most of the season, inept at holding their opponents at bay. Marco Killingsworth shredded Hapoel’s defense with a sizzling eight-for-eight performance from the field, finishing with 22 points. He also denied Hapoel opportunities for second-chance points with seven defensive rebounds.

Netanya outscored Hapoel during each quarter, the big difference coming in the second period with a 23-10 differential. Netanya’s Deron Washington had the biggest offensive night of all, with 25 points as he made all three shots from behind the arc and made another six of eleven from two-point range.

Eilat retained home court advantage in its matchup with Rishon. Eilat went into the break with an 11-point lead, but Rishon dominated the third quarter going into the final period down just 48-46.

The fourth quarter was tight with Rishon unable to take the lead but not letting Eilat put the game away. Rishon tied the game at 65-all on a basket by Lazeric Jones with less than a minute to go, but Rishon committed fouls on Eilat’s next two possessions. Rishon cut the lead back to 68-67 and had a chance to tie or win the game on its final possession after Jerome Tillman only made one free throw, but Tillman rebounded Rishon’s final shot to preserve the victory.

In the final game of the night, Hapoel Tel Aviv once again kept Maccabi’s hands full but like in Game 1 couldn’t keep the Men in Yellow down.

Maccabi erased Hapoel’s 50-40 lead in a four-minute stretch midway through the third quarter with a 14-3 run.

The lead switched hands a couple of more times, with Hapoel going ahead for one last time a little over a minute into the final quarter. But Maccabi, as usual, had too many weapons as Coach David Blatt kept rotating his players, and Hapoel ran out of options as it saw its season come to a close in valiant fashion.

Jerusalem’s Brian Randle led all scorers with 19 points, while Shawn James paced Maccabi with 17 points. Lior Eliyahu was a workhorse in the paint, pulling down 17 boards.

Rami Shlush