Maccabi takes down Nes Ziona, Ashdod defeats Hapoel Tel Aviv in OT

Maccabi Tel Aviv 94-62 Nes Ziona
The Yellow & Blue dominated an overmatched Nes Ziona for the full 40 minutes as Neven Spahija’s squad took a 1-0 lead in their best of 5 quarterfinal series. Fabulous team play made all the difference with 51 rebounds, 26 assists and 15 steals in total. Jake Cohen scored 18 points while DeAndre Kane dropped 15 points, pulled down 11 rebounds to go along with 5 steals to help the host’s to the win. Maccabi received terrific point guard play from Jeremy Pargo with 15 points and 11 assists as Itay Segev gave in a solid performance with 15 points and 7 boards. Talib Zanna recorded a double-double with 15 points and 13 rebounds for Nes Ziona in a losing cause. Game 2 will take place on Thursday night at 20:30 local time in Nes Ziona.

Maccabi Ashdod 91-85 Hapoel Tel Aviv
Brad Greenberg’s Ashdod came away winners after overtime against Hapoel Tel Aviv and kept home court advantage in Game 1 of their quarterfinal series. Cameron Long scored 23 points as Gerald Lee added 21 points in the win. Ty McKee and Adrian Banks each scored 21 points for Hapoel in the loss. Greenberg picked up a technical with seconds remaining as a McKee free throw drew the visitor’s even sending the game to overtime as Sek Henry on an off night going 1/14 from the field missed a last gasp 3-pointer as regulation time came to an end. However, Ashdod’s rebounding and tonight play helped them pull out the win in overtime.

1) Nes Ziona is a great story. The fact that they made it into the playoffs against all odds and added Khalif Wyatt for the stretch run is a credit to their management and coach Nadav Zilberstein. However, it looks like their time is up. After getting blown away by Jerusalem on Sunday night, Maccabi Tel Aviv did a number on them in Game 1 of their playoff series. On paper, the Yellow & Blue are far superior and not only were the players in fine form, they had 4 potential starters not even dressed for the game in Pierre Jackson, Deshaun Thomas, Karam Mashour and Art Parakhouski. How many other teams have that type of arsenal either available on the court or off of it? No one else. The only way Maccabi doesn’t win three straight is if they get massively complacent or fall asleep at the wheel, otherwise this series will be done by 11pm Saturday night.

2) Following the win Maccabi Tel Aviv held a charity event raising money for Schneider Children’s Hospital at Cinema City Glilot. Over 700 people were in attendance including children who are currently in the hospital as well as their families as Maccabi fans enjoyed a night of inspiration, music, entertainment and fun. Itay Segev spoke about the importance of the fundraiser and how crucial it is to help these children as they fight a much bigger battle than that on the basketball court. DeAndre Kane won the team’s Defensive Player of the Year award while Alex Tyus picked up the Most Efficient Player, Michael Roll took home the Best Shooter and John DiBartolomeo was the Fan Favorite. Singers Miri Mesika and Shlomi Shabbat performed while Avi Nussbaum and Asi Cohen did comedy routines.

3) Hapoel Tel Aviv will look at the loss in Ashdod as a game that got away. The game was in their hands to steal a win on the road but they couldn’t pull it off. This has been something that has plagued the Tel Aviv Reds all season long. However, one stat that sticks out like a sore thumb is the amount of free throws Ashdod had – 35! Hapoel on the other hand had 18. That is a HUGE difference. But credit to Ashdod for nailing 29/35 as most Israeli teams would never come near that percentage. This series has all of the makings to go all the way to a game 5, the only question remaining is will the games at the Drive In, Hapoel’s home arena be televised after the Sport 5 crew was abused by the Reds fans during them first half and had to move to a different location for the final 20 minutes of play.

Wednesday night sees Hapoel Jerusalem hosting Hapoel Gilboa/Galil while Hapoel Holon welcomes Hapoel Eilat. Both of these series look to be intense and competitive as Gilboa has been a thorn in Jerusalem’s side all season long but the capital city side certainly has more firepower than Ariel Beit Halachmi’s crew. But Zach LeDay, D’Angelo Harrison together with J’Covan Brown have been a formidable force and one that Oded Katash will certainly be wary of. Holon hasn’t been the same since Glen Rice Jr. was thrown off of the team and they have struggled mightily. Eilat has had its ups and downs but Sharon Drucker has his players focussed on the mission at hand. Two interesting series that’s for sure.

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