Hapoel shoots lights out, Maccabi’s rest and a celebration of Israeli basketball

Hapoel Tel Aviv did what they do best, hit one triple after the next as they absolutely demolished Kiryat Ata 100-83 to win their semifinal series and punch their ticket to the finals where they will meet their arch rivals Maccabi Tel Aviv.

The Reds couldn’t miss from deep as 3-pointer after 3-pointer found its way into the basket for Stefanos Dedas squad. Whether it was Tomer Ginat with 4, Bar Timor with 4, Tyler Ennis with 4, Xavier Munford with 4 to to along with more from Dusty Hannahs and Gil Beni it was a banner evening from beyond the arc whatever way you want to slice it.

Hapoel did it with hands in their faces, off of fast breaks, fluke shots, corner 3-balls and spot up jumpers, there was no way that they were going to miss. It rained 3’s all game long and Kiryat Ata couldn’t do anything about it. Before they even knew it, Sharon Avrahami’s crew was in a double digit hole after the opening quarter.

It was just one of those nights that misses just weren’t going to exist.

After having lost the opening game at the Drive In, Hapoel was able to even up the series ok the road up north in Ata and then finish off the job back at home in front of their home fans in style.

Now a rematch with Maccabi Tel Aviv is on tap with game one coming up on Thursday night at Yad Eliyahu as the Reds will come into the contest beaten up and limping despite the blowout game three win.

With Braian Angola and J’Covan Brown’s seasons already done, altough the club is trying to get Angola in shape to play, John Holland broke his wrist on a late game two dunk in Kiryat Ata and Isaiah Miles took quite the hit in game three that it sent him to the hospital and the rest of his season is in doubt.

With that in mind, Hapoel is going to have a very tough time putting together their squad for the series and may have to go into the best-of-3 with just four imports, Munford, Ennis, Hoard and Kyle Alexander who wasn’t even dressed for games two and three of the semifinals.

Maccabi on the other hand comes into Thursday night’s clash with most probably a full roster including Wade Baldwin who has been out of action since the Euroleague quarterfinals and Josh Nebo who was injured against Hapoel Jerusalem. Add to that a week off ahead of the series and they are going to be in pristine, perfect condition which will be a massive advantage for the yellow-and-blue.

Can Hapoel find a way to win one of the two games at Yad Eliyahu? Will they be even able to win a game at home with a very, very depleted roster?

The hearts of the fans will obviously say that Hapoel has a chance and should win the series, the heads though also can see what is in front of them, which is going to be one helluva hill to climb.

Dedas has done a good job over the past two months to get this team to this point but heading into the finals now is a totally different story and one that is going to be quite a challenge to say the least.

Maccabi will come in ready to go and will no doubt have one goal in mind which is to win yet another league championship and go back-to-back.

At this time of the season of course everyone has been dealing with injuries and Hapoel will be coming in suffering just as much as almost any other team.

But what’s most important in this series is to really ensure that the games go off without a hitch as we all are very well aware of the rivalry that there is between the two fan bases as well as between the two clubs.

The country has been through quite a time since the Hamas attacks on October 7th which totally turned our society and small corner of the world upside down. In fact, if we really take a look at the truth of the matter, it’s been almost a miracle that the season will come to a conclusion.

The league needs to ensure that series will go off without a hitch. No flares, no violence, no nonsense. No news stories that paints the league and the sport of basketball in a poor light. That was the case last season during the finals and that was also the case during the Winner Cup preseason tournament that took place just prior to October 7th.

Since then, Maccabi Tel Aviv fans and Hapoel Tel Aviv fans have been fighting side by side in Gaza against Hamas and they have also fallen together.

Both teams have memorialized so many of their fans who have lost their lives due to the attacks by Hamas at the Nova Festival as well as in the many Kibbutzim by Gaza. Others have been killed serving the country on the battle field in Gaza fighting the common enemy.

Can we please, please, please keep the game on the court and not off of it.

Let’s have a celebration of Israeli basketball and enjoy the game that we all love.

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