The Israel State Basketball Cup will be at the forefront of the sports scene in the Holy Land this week as the semifinals and finals of the competition will take at Yad Eliyahu on Monday and Thursday respectively.
Nahariya vs Nes Ziona
Nahariya and Nes Ziona will tip off at 18:30 in the first of the two semifinals in a matchup that just took place last week in League play as visiting Nahariya had the upper hand with an 88-83 win. However, Monday night’s game will be of the knockout variety with the winner moving on to Thursday’s final.
“We are coming into the game with a passion and desire to succeed,” Nadav Zilberstein the Nes Ziona coach said. “We’re constantly reaching new heights and we want to be in the Final Four of the Cup every year. We are a young club that is continuing to grow year by year and we are hungry for success.”
Captain Tal Dunne also expressed the team’s desire to win the tournament, “We’ve worked hard and we very much want to make history for our club and city.”
Nahariya Captain Tony Gaffney talked about how last week’s game won’t have any influence on Monday’s clash, “The two teams will come into the contest with different game plans. I don’t think we are underdogs and each of the four teams needs to win two games and then they will take the Cup home.
“I’m very happy that we are here,” explained Nahariya coach Danny Franco. “This is a challenge and an experience that the city is very excited about and they are all behind us.”
Hapoel Jerusalem vs Maccabi Rishon Le’Zion
The nightcap will feature Hapoel Jerusalem and Maccabi Rishon Le’Zion, the two finalists in last year’s Israel State Basketball Cup Final that the capital city side won. The game is slated for 21:00 as Rishon will look to repeat their win in the League semifinals over Jerusalem from last year.
“Last season we had even more pressure as we were playing at home and we won the Cup,” explained Jerusalem coach Oded Katash. “Both teams have kept the base of players from last season and it’s like a series that we have played against them. There is definitely a rivalry here. I have no problem that we are the favorites but we have to know how to deal with it.”
Jerusalem captain Bar Timor also commented about the support that the team is exacting, “Our fans will support us and we can’t wait to see them and play a good game for them.”
Rishon captain Oz Blayzer spoke about the challenge ahead, “We reached this point last season and we are happy to be here again. We have a big game ahead and we will do everything we can to bring home another title. Jerusalem is a big club and has European standards but we played in the EuroCup this season which gave us some good experience as well.”
“Jerusalem is a super strong team with a lot of quality inside and outside,” said Rishon coach Guy Goodes. “We will look to make our mark on the defensive end as that is where we win our games. We will have to be focused for 40 minutes in order to come away with the surprise win.”