A full slate of intense quarterfinals games are expected this weekend as the playoffs tip off in the Red and Dr. Murray's Israel Basketball League.
Reigning champions and #1 seed City of Gold are looking to complete a perfect season, led by Yisrael Feld, arguably the best athlete in the league. Feld skippers his team at point guard, and his combination of court vision, outside shooting, a quick first step and an ability to go to the rim have given opposing teams too much to handle.
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The team with the unenviable first shot at knocking off City of Gold in the playoffs is BMT '84 Alumni, and wily veteran, Dovid Oratz. The BMT captain has obliquely alluded to a "secret weapon" that could lead to an upset. Whether Oratz has a true ace up his sleeve, or the mind games themselves are the weapon, league observers can't wait to see what happens.
Fourth-seeded Wildes & Weinberg and fifth-seed Flint Tropics both are playing with something to prove, as just one razor-thin defeat in the regular season kept each of them from the top couple of spots in the standings. Now they meet, with a shot at redemption on the road to the Red Auerbach Championship Trophy.
Riding the hottest streak into the post-season is Ashreinu, who were at the brink of elimination before miraculously reversing their fortunes and riding a four-game must-win streak into the playoffs. Ashreinu now looks to keep the dream alive, facing the #2 seed OJ, the league's top offensive scoring machine, led by Zev Teitelbaum.
Perennial powerhouse Lobos look to reclaim the title, starting with what could be a tough match-up against KIVA. Several Lobos players are fresh off a football championship, and the talk of a possible football-basketball-softball "triple crown" has already begun, despite the best efforts of veterans Aryeh Rudman and Nissi Mermelstein to keep the pressure off their teammates.
KIVA often wins with an up-tempo fast-break game, and insiders think the outcome of this game could be determined in the battle of the boards. If Lobos crash the offensive glass effectively, KIVA will need to focus their energy on just coming down with the ball; give KIVA any breathing room, though, and they'll be off to the races.