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Maccabi bests Nes Ziona, Hapoel bests Ashdod

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Maccabi Tel Aviv 102-93 Nes Ziona
Maccabi Tel Aviv grabbed a 2-1 advantage in their best if 5 quarterfinal series against Nes Ziona thanks to fine play by Deshaun Thomas with an MVP 18 point performance. Nes Ziona again caused the Yellow & Blue plenty of problems and took a 5-point, 52-47 lead into the halftime break but Neven Spahija’s squad locked down on defense and took the win. Alex Tyus dropped 15 points and pulled down 8 rebounds, Norris Cole added 15 points and dished out 6 dimes while DeAndre Kane also scored 15 points in the win. Talib Zanna scored 21 points and grabbed 19 rebounds as Gary Brown and Dequan Cook each contributed 20 points in the loss. Game 4 will take place on Monday, 8:30pm at Nes Ziona.

Maccabi Ashdod 78-99 Hapoel Tel Aviv
Hapoel Tel Aviv took a 2-1 series lead and can advance to the Final Four with a win a home win on Monday night after defeating Ashdod 99-78 down south. Adrian Banks starred for the Reds with 20 points as he was one of seven players in double digits for Danny Franco’s squad. Tomer Ginat scored 16 points, Rafi Menco added 13 while Matt Howard scored 12 points and added 9 rebounds in the win. Sek Henry led Ashdod with 19 points in the defeat.

3-Pointers
1) Nes Ziona gave Maccabi fits yet again as the visitor’s hit shot after shot in the first half scoring 52 points and taking a 5 point lead into overtime. Acting captain Jake Cohen (10p) said at halftime that they had to start playing defense as a team and not individually and that’s exactly what they did over the final 20 minutes as they took the 2-1 series lead. Michael Roll also chimed in on the defensive effort, “We played much better, more intense and more alert. That was the key. We focused and were more aggressive.”

2) Norris Cole has a marvelous game with 15 points, 4 boards and 6 assists. It was good to see the 2x NBA Champion play top level basketball and made some key baskets when the team really needed them. “That’s the time of the year I look forward to,” the guard said. “I’m used to playing in the playoffs as I did in the NBA, so I guess this time of year is fun for me and I enjoy it.” Jeremy Pargo again was solid with 12 points and 8 dimes while DeAndre Kane went 3/5 from beyond the arc for Maccabi. And by the way is Alex Tyus the consummate professional? 15 points and 8 rebounds for the big man after 14 points in game 2. He played only 10 minutes in game 1 and was held scoreless but my guess is that he could’ve have played more but with such a big lead why use him so he can be fresh for the upcoming games.

3) Deshaun Thomas was left out of the squad for the first game and Maccabi won by 32 points. He was in the lineup for game 2 and the team lost, but Spahija went back to the forward in game 3 and was rewarded with 18 points on 8/11 from the field. He’ll certainly be back for game 4 in Nes Ziona after his MVP performance.

Overtime
Adrian Banks has had a wonderful season and it continued in Hapoel Tel Aviv’s game 3 win over Maccabi Ashdod with 20 points. When Banks is rolling so is Hapoel as 7(!) players were in double digits which is in itself an amazing stat. #1 is truly #1 on this team in more ways than 1. In essence, this series could have already been over had Ashdod not won in overtime in game 1. The Reds are getting hot at the right time and Brad Greenberg’s Ashdod are cold at the wrong moment as it’s gonna to be a tough task to win at the Drive In in game 4 on Monday night.