Kristine L Ming

Cup final between Mac TA and Hap J’lem still a possibility

Maccabi Tel Aviv and Hapoel Jerusalem remained on course to meet in the State Cup final after being kept apart in the draw for the semifinals on Tuesday.

Maccabi, which is targeting its sixth straight cup, will face Maccabi Haifa, while Jerusalem will come up against Hapoel Eilat.

The semifinals will take place at the Jerusalem Arena on February 16, with the final to be held at the same venue three days later.

The yellow-and-blue, which faced Panathinaikos in its Euroleague Top 16 opener late Tuesday night, survived a mighty scare before overcoming Hapoel Tel Aviv 73-71 in the last eight at Nokia Arena on Saturday.

Maccabi, which has missed the semifinals just once since 1993, led by as many as 17 points (59- 42) midway through the third quarter, but only ultimately clinched the win when Durand Scott’s three-point attempt came off the backboard.

“Maccabi Haifa is a very good team,” said Tel Aviv coach Guy Goodes. “No team has a significant advantage in knockout cup games and anything can happen.”

Despite struggling in the BSL, Haifa advanced to the semis by defeating Hapoel Gilboa/ Galil 79-61.

Like Tel Aviv, Jerusalem was also centimeters away from being knocked out in the quarterfinals before beating Maccabi Rishon Lezion 81-78 in overtime.

Rishon’s Isaiah Swann saw his attempt at the final buzzer of regulation bounce in and out of the rim, and Hapoel eked out the win in the extra period.

“We played Eilat at our arena not that long ago and this is an excellent team,” said Jerusalem CEO Guy Harel, with Hapoel losing 87-85 to Eilat in BSL action three weeks ago. “There is still a long way to go until the semis, but we saw in the quarters that there are no easy games.”

Eilat, which lost to Maccabi Tel Aviv in the final last season, beat the last remaining National League representative, Elitzur Barak Netanya, 96-85 to reach the semis.

On Wednesday, Jerusalem visits Hapoel Holon in postponed BSL action.

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