Maccabi Rishon Le’Zion punched their ticket to the Israel Basketball League Final with a dramatic 100-97 win over Hapoel Jerusalem. With just a second left on the clock in regulation time, Adam Ariel scored an off balance 3-pointer from the corner to send Guy Goodes’s squad to the championship game.
Rishon came out strong to start the game and led by over 20 points in the first half with Zach Hankins playing a pivotal role in the paint, but a 41 point third quarter thanks to a red hot Jeremy Pargo gave the Reds a shocking lead after thirty minutes. As both squads traded baskets throughout the final frame Ariel had the last word with his heroics as time expired to send the wine city crew to the title match.
D’Angelo Harrison led Rishon with 21 points and 8 rebounds, Zach Hankins scored 20 points, Oz Blayzer added 16 points and Darryl Monroe chipped in with 13 points in the win. Jeremy Pargo was Jerusalem’s top scorer with 32 points, James Feldeine added 18 points while John Holland had 15 points and Suleiman Braimoh notched a double double with 14 points and 10 rebounds in the loss.
Oz Blayzer opened the game with a reverse layup for Maccabi Rishon Le’Zion which was quickly followed up by a pair a dunks via Zach Hankins and the aforementioned Blayzer to get Guy Goodes’s squad off and running to a 13-3 lead midway through the first quarter. D’Angelo Harrison scored at will from the outride while Hankins continued to do serious damage inside as Jeremy Pargo with a trio of triples tried to singlehandedly pull Jerusalem out of the hole as Rishon led 32-17 after ten minutes of play.
Hankins and Harrison continued to score as the second quarter opened up exactly as the first with the former working in the paint and the latter from beyond the arc as Rishon increased their advantage to 41-19 with 7:36 remaining in the first half. Monroe exited with 3 fouls soon thereafter as James Feldeine scored on a layup, Tamir Blatt hit a 3-pointer while Emanuel Terry scored inside as well to help cut the advantage to 50-37 in favor of Rishon at halftime.
Jerusalem got busy early on in the third quarter John Holland, Idan Zalmanson and Braimoh all found the basket as the Reds continued to mount a comeback and were down by only 7 points, 54-47 with seven minutes left in the frame. Blayzer scored a triple as well as a floater and Hamilton went from deep as well, but Blatt, Feldeine and Braimoh inched even closer as the gap was cut even further to 68-64 with three minutes left in the period. A pair of 3-pointers by Pargo, from the elbow and an off balance triple from the corner helped Oded Katash’s squad to a 41 point period to take the lead 78-77 after thirty minutes of action.
Harrison dropped a pair of baskets while Pargo did the same at the other end of the court as Rishon retook the lead 83-82 with 7:02 remaining in the fourth quarter. Nimrod Tishman drilled home a 3-pointer, nailed a jumper and Hamilton scored points from underneath the bucket but Pargo kept Jerusalem close with points of his own as Rishon led 93-90 with a little over two minutes left in the frame. Pargo drove into the lane for a layup as did Hamilton while Harrison hit his free throws but Pargo scored a high arcing 3-pointer and another bucket to tie up the score 97-97 with just one second left on the clock.
Monroe inbounded the ball in the front court to an off balance Adam Ariel in the corner who lofted the ball in the air on one foot before falling out of bounds and hit nothing but net to win the game 100-97 as Rishon Le’Zion advanced in style to the final.