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Bye, bye, so long & Farewell: Maccabi advances to the Final 4

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Nes Ziona 79-96 Maccabi Tel Aviv
Maccabi Tel Aviv defeated Nes Ziona 96-79 to advance to the Final 4 and a semi-final matchup against Hapoel Tel Aviv. After going into halftime down by 3, 43-40, the Yellow & Blue ran off a brilliant third quarter thanks to Norris Cole (24p) and Michael Roll (11p) along with Jeremy Pargo playing the point (15a) and that was all she wrote as Maccabi pulled away in the final frame to take the win and take the series 3 games to 1. Acting captain Jake Cohen added 18 points as Yovel Zoosman chipped in with 12 big points in the win.Talib Zanna dropped 15 points and pulled down 11 rebounds in a losing effort.

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3-Pointers
1) Maccabi began slowly but righted the ship midway through the second quarter and eventually took control in the third frame to take the 17 point win. Coming out of the halftime break, the Yellow & Blue were down 43-40 but very quickly grabbed the lead and never looked back thanks to an absolute guard show by Cole, Roll and Pargo. The 3-headed monster did all kinds of damage quickly and swiftly to kill the game as Cole scored 15 of his season high 24 points, Roll dropped 9 while Pargo led the attack. The new/old Maccabi guard spoke about those first few minutes of the second half, “That’s something that we’ve needed to do since I’ve been here. I’m new to the team and we’ve struggled, but we have had some games where we came out well. For a winning team that’s important. You want to assert yourself.” Roll also talks about the team’s mindset going into the third frame, “We were tired of what was happening in the first half, some of it was out of our control. But we talked about it at halftime and we came out focused, locked in and came out playing.” Play they did as it was bye, bye, so long and farewell to Nes Ziona.

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2) Yovel Zoosman was a key player for Maccabi with 9 points in the second quarter once DeAndre Kane picked up 3 fouls in the frame and was benched for the balance of the game. The Israeli born “Zoos” did everything to ignite the Yellow & Blue’s fire and helped bring Maccabi to within only 3 points at the break. Number 50 ended the night with 12 points in 21:30 minutes and an efficiency rating of 16 to go along with 4 rebounds and 3 steals in arguably his best game of the season. Once we’re on the Israelis Itay Segev played a strong 18+ minutes, scored 8 points and grabbed 6 boards while Jake Cohen drained 4, 3 pointers good for 18 points. Not a bad evening for the Sabras.

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3) Jeremy Pargo had a fantastic game for Maccabi handing out 15 assists while playing like a true floor general for 35+ minutes. There’s no question that he’s been the X-Factor for the team since joining the roster a little over a month ago in what was considered to be a surprise move. Pargo spoke about the win and his overall play on the day, “We got a win and that’s the most important thing. We stayed together as a team and we made shots and the most important thing was that we played defense. We’re looking forward to practice this week.” In actuality Maccabi’s defense was stifling in the second half limiting the host’s to just 36 points. The guard added about his own personal performance, “Could have been better. It was just what the game presented and I wanted to take what they gave me. Last time we played here I had a bunch of turnovers which was uncharacteristic. I wanted to be calm as possible.” And calm he was finishing the night with just 2 turnovers.

Overtime
Derby. Yes a Semifinal Derby between Maccabi and Hapoel Tel Aviv on the Israel Basketball Winner League Final Four. It’s going to be a big, big game for sure as the league has already decided to break up the semifinals to be held on two separate days instead of one as has been done in the past. It will be The Tel Aviv Derby on Sunday June 10th followed by the second semifinal which will feature either Hapoel Jerusalem or Hapoel Gilboa/Galil and Hapoel Holon Or Hapoel Eilat. There’s time into, the next game but of course we had to ask Pargo about having to play the teams arch nemesis, “We have quite a bit of time to prepare. We’ll enjoy it tonight and then we have a long week of practice to get ready for Sunday. Roll’s sentiments were about the same, “It’s exciting. We came out and did what we had to do and now it’s time to prepare. We’re excited, it’s going to be fun.” Fun it will be for sure.

Hapoel Tel Aviv 79-74 Maccabi Ashdod
The Tel Aviv Reds were the first team to advance to the Winner League Final 4 after deafening Ashdod at home by 5. 79-74 and winning their quarterfinal series 3 games to 1. Jerel McNeal led the way for the host’s with 20 points while veteran guard Raviv Limonad added 13 points in the win. Sek Henry scored 17 points while shooting a miserable 2/11 from 3-point land in the loss.