Quarterfinals weekend was packed in the Red & Doctor Murrays Israel Basketball League, as Mr. Bagel, TC, LA Ballers and Firehawks all advanced to the penultimate round.
When these teams met in the regular season, Tzionim came away with the win, so an upset loomed large. In this game, it was a back-and-forth first half, with TC clinging to a narrow 32-29 lead at the intermission. The second half was a different story. TC’s defensive game was the best in league history, holding Tzionim to just six points, allowing TC to come away with the 50-35 victory.
Top-seeded Mr. Bagel also faced a familiar foe, the No. 8 Pittsburgh Panda Bears. In their regular-season encounter, Mr. Bagel had one of its closest games of the year, only pulling away in the waning seconds. The Panda Bears were confident they could take the rematch, and came out playing excellent, unselfish basketball. Constant ball movement created high-percentage shots, which the Pandas knocked down with efficiency, staking them to an early 10-point lead. Mr. Bagel made some defensive adjustments, and started to make inroads into the lead, pulling to within six at halftime.
Then, in the second frame, Mr. Bagel’s Josh Dukas caught fire from the 3-point line. Behind his barrage of 3’s (17 points, 5-6 from beyond the arc), Mr. Bagel came charging back, building a comfortable lead by midway through the half and cruising to a 65-51 victory.
The 4 vs. 5 playoff matchup is always the tightest on paper, and the LA Ballers vs. Chaburah tilt lived up to the billing. The game was a seesaw battle throughout, as each side made one clutch play after another, to keep their team in the game. In the final 10 minutes, LA Ballers looked to have finally pulled away, building a 12-point lead. Still, Chaburah wouldn’t go down without a fight, as Abie Perlow made big defensive plays, and two big basket-and-1’s to bring his team back within two scores.
With under a minute left and the game on the line, LA Ballers came together and made repeated defensive stands of their own, to win 50-45.
In the semifinals, Shalhevet Firehawks awaits TC, while Mr. Bagel takes on LA Ballers.