Maccabi Hunter Haifa will host Hapoel Holon in the fourth game of the best-of-five quarterfinals on Sunday at Romema at 9:00 p.m.
The Greens come into the contest up 2-1 in the series after edging Holon, 78-77, on the road last Wednesday. Haifa has a chance to advance to the Final Four with a victory on Sunday.
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The Israelis are the difference-makers
In Game 3, just like in the first two games of the series, Maccabi’s Israeli players have dominated — scoring 53 of the team’s 78 points (67.9%) last Wednesday. Willy Workman shined, posting a career-high double-double on 19 points and 11 rebounds in 28 minutes. Workman was awarded Game MVP as well as Winner League MVP of the Week for his clutch performance. John DiBartolomeo tallied 19 points (4-of-5 from downtown) as well as he continues to lead all Israeli scorers in the playoffs with 22.0 points per game.
Team Captain, Oz Blayzer, has been sharp this series, averaging 15.3 points and 5.7 rebounds per game (compared to his regular season averages of 11.3 points and 6.7 rebounds per game). Blayzer improved his 3-point shooting, knocking down 50 percent (7-of-14) of his attempts in three games of the quarterfinals, compared to 28 percent from long range in the regular season.
“We are coming back home looking to close out the series, but it will not be easy against a great team with a lot of tools like Holon,” Blayzer said. “We will have to bring the aggressiveness from the last three games and I am sure our fans will push us over the top.”
Chance to make history
The Greens know they are not only fighting Holon, but also history, since no eighth place team has ever beaten the first seeded in the quarterfinals in Israeli Basketball history. Thus far, Maccabi is leading Holon is several statistical categories — mainly on the boards. Rahimi’s players are pulling down 43.0 rebounds per game — a big improvement over team’s regular season average (35.8 RPG). Holon is averaging exactly the same amount of boards as they did in the regular season with 37.8 rebounds per game.
“We took a big step in game three with the road win,” Rahimi said. “We are going to remain aggressive and finish strong in the fourth game.”
Tu Holloway continues to be Holon’s main offensive weapon, leading Holon with 21 points and 12 assists in 38 minutes in Game 3. Holloway is leading the league in points (25.3), VAL (27.3) and foul shots (8.0) in the playoffs. In the first quarter of game 3, Darion Atkins scored 14 points, but the Greens’ defense held him in check throughout the rest of the game, scoring only one more point on the evening. James Bell scored in double figures for the first time in the playoff series with 11 points and grabbed 7 rebounds in 29 minutes.