Maccabi Tel Aviv defeated Hapoel Tel Aviv 98-74 in the first semifinal of the Israel Winner League Final 4 to advance to the Finals on Thursday night. Alex Tyus had a tremendous game scoring 18 points, grabbing 9 rebounds while blocking 3 shots in 34 minutes. Jeremy Pargo matched Tyus with 18 points while Deshaun Thomas scored 17 points and Norris Cole added 13 points in the win. Adrian Banks led Hapoel with 16 points while Tony Gaffney, Tomer Ginat and Raviv Limonad all scored 10 points in the loss.
Jeremy Pargo came out on fire in the first quarter dropping 9 points but a pair of costly turnovers by Norris Cole gave the Reds a 2-point advantage after 10 minutes, 24-22 as Tony Gaffney, Rafi Menco and Matt Howard all scored 5 points for Hapoel in the frame. Cole found his groove in the second quarter scoring 10 points in the frame as Maccabi took a 43-40 lead into the lockerroom at the break. The Yellow & Blue committed 8 turnovers in the half leading to 13 Hapoel points to keep Danny Franco’s team in the game.
Pargo took control of the game after halftime and doubled his offensive output scoring 9 points for a game high 18 after 30 minutes of play while Raviv Limonad who had a quiet first half chipped in with 5 points for the Reds as Maccabi took a 67-60 lead into the final frame. However, if Hapoel had any thoughts of mounting a comeback, the Yellow & Blue made sure that wasn’t going to be the case as they dominated the decisive quarter and took home a 24-point, 98-74 win. The victory punched Maccabi’s ticket to the Final on Thursday night against either Hapoel Jerusalem or Hapoel Holon who play their semifinal on Monday night.
1) Jeremy Pargo and Norris Cole ripped apart the Hapoel Tel Aviv defense through 3 quarters absolutely tiring the Reds and setting up a dominant 4th quarter by Alex Tyus and Deshaun Thomas. The run and gun Maccabi offense along with their air tight defense and overwhelming rebound advantage (46-26) took care of the Reds every which way, but it was Cole providing the leadership yet again as he looked ahead to the final on Thursday night against a yet to be determined foe: “That’s the ultimate goal in team sports, to win the championship. That’s the number one goal, we’ve got one more. We want the trophy but we have one more game first and if we take care of our business, we’ll do that.”
2) Alex Tyus was superb playing like Superman all game long especially helping Maccabi to a 31-14 fourth quarter with a third of those points. The big man has really turned it on over the last third of the season with double-doubles almost every game setting up Neven Spahija’s squad with a well oiled machine as he explained, “You see how much I rested him in this league and I didn’t burn him out. Now when we need two more steps for the championship I can play him these minutes when we have a shorter playoff rotation. He was one of the most important parts of our win.” Tyus also looked back at the win and spoke about the keys to victory, “We all came ready to play and did a really good job with our scouting and defensively especially in the second half. We wore them out and they were frustrated. We have to come into the final with the same mindset, our scouting and if we stay focused, our talent will help us win.”
3) Deshaun Thomas had one of those nights where very, very quietly he scored 17 points while pulling down 6 rebounds in 20 minutes. He along with Tyus were extremely active in the final frame as #1 scored 8 of his points down the stretch, but he explained what his real contribution was, “The big key was defensively as I got out on switches and rebounded the ball too. I’m a good scorer but in the playoffs it’s the little things. I think by playing defense and rebounding the ball that helped my offense.” I remember earlier on this season talking to Thomas about what makes the differences in the Euroleague games and he said the little things. That was so true in the Derby.
Hapoel Tel Aviv ended the season on a high note by making it to the Final 4. They were certainly not the better team but they played the campaign with heart and soul to continue to build on their success from moving up league after league when they restarted as a fan based team. Credit to them as the credit is deserved. Danny Franco spoke about the accomplishment, “It’s the first time a fan based team made it into the Final 4 and I’m sure I’ll take certain things from this season that will help us along the way.” Adrian Banks also looked back on the season that was, “It’s definitely a sign of growth. I know we lost but just reaching here and being part of the event is so special and they seem to get even more special the longer you play. It was also very special for us, a team that made very few changes to do this together.”