Hapoel travels to the southernmost point in Israel for the away part of the Igud cup semi finals, for a hard game against Hapoel Eilat. About 250 spectators were present 50 of them Ussushkin fans that made the long way from Tel Aviv to watch an exciting aggressive battle in which Tohar Haimovitch broke a toe and cut his chin after a tackle with Eilat’s Aviel Yitzhak, and was announced as doubtful for the rematch. At the end of the game Hapoel returns with a slight advantage before the second match at home.
- This is the second straight year where the teams meet at the Igud Cup. The last time was at the quarter finals.
- This is the first match for Hapoel playing at Eilat’s new home court.
- At the end of the match Tohar was taken to the hospital to saw up his chin.
The match started evenly, Eilat made it clear to the reds it was not going to go down as easily as last year (97-53) , after 5 minutes the score was an even 9-9, at that point Eilat started to run away with the game. Hapoel stopped functioning on offense, missed at all range and lost many balls sloppily, Eilat played with alot of enthusiasm, broke again and again through the zone defense and scored 3 straight 3-pointers that led to a 20-11 lead before the end of the quarter, but a hapoel redeeming 3-pointer made it 20-14 at the end of the 1st quarter.
At the beginning of the second quarter we saw a determined Hapoel, just like in the last league game on Thursday. Hapoel started to apply pressure on defense, and forced many balls out of Eilat players hands. In the offense Matan started getting into a zone, hitting two 3-pointers and a couple of close up shots. Eitan and Tohar also ran the fast-break and Hapoel managed an impressive 25-6 run to go up to 26-36 lead, 4 minutes before the half. At that time Eilat seemd to wake up again while Hapoel went back to sleep. Ben-Yehoshua passed Lahat again and again to the basket, Aviel Yitzhak added a 3, and Pisazki made a crazy 3-pointer buzzer beater with both Eitan and Tohar in his face. Tries by Simhoni to improve the defense with Simhoni and Zamir were unsuccessful and Eilat were leading 38-36 and the end of the half.
Hapoel came to at the beginning of the 2nd half, and went up quickly to 44-40. Eilat however was alaways within range, with smart penetrations and good ball movement behind the arc that broke Hapoel’s zone defense and kept Eilat’s players open for easy 3’s. Also Eilat’s aggressive defense denied Hapoel’s usual run game. Rockney was again hampered by fouls and Inbar was not as effective in offense in his place. Zamir however made some important throws and Buchman’s defense managed to neutralize Ben-Yehoshua. 48-52 was the score 6 minutes into the quarter and at the end of the 3rd the score showed 59-64 for the visitors.
Eilat started the final quarter with intensity, and went up to a quick lead 67-66, form here on out it was a high tempered close game. Hapoel countered with a 69-72 lead of their own (after the officials tried to add a Hapoel basket to Eilat) and raised the lead again to a 69-75. by ,among others, a great Matan Naor alley oop and smart penetrations by Tohar, who seemed to wake up exactly on time. A frustrated Eilat reacted aggressively, including a hard foul by Aviel Yitshak on Tohar that threw him down to the floor, and resulted in a double technical as Tohar cursed at Yitshak. Eilat was able to close the gap back to 72-75, and the local crowd, some of which were constantly cursing behind the red’s bench, was on its feet. A minute and a half to the end and the lead was down to 2, 76:78. A score and a foul by Matan Naor made it 78:82 with 46 seconds to go, Eilat were unable to get another score until the end of the match, and Hapoel Ussishkin returns with a slight advantage for the rematch at home.
Opening line up: Lahat, Naor, Haimovitch, Eitan & Rockni.
Hapoel: Matan Naor 25, Tohar Haimovitch 16, Gal Eitan 12, Omer Zamir 10, Elad Inbar 9, Lahat & Rockney 4, Buchman 2.
Played and failed to score: Shwartzman & Simchoni.
Judges: Ilan Yablakovski, Natan Poznananovsky.