By Amy Samin
In a tough battle in the Israeli Cup semifinals that went into overtime, Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv defeated Maccabi Haifa 90-87 and qualified for the Final, where they will face Hapoel Jerusalem on Thursday. Brian Randle (14 rebounds) and Devin Smith (10 rebounds) were outstanding with 15 points each. Yogev Ohayon (9 rebounds, 7 assists) and Sylven Landesberg scored 13 points each. MarQuez Haynes contributed 12 points.
Maccabi's starters were Yogev Ohayon, Jeremy Pargo, Devin Smith, Brian Randle, and Alex Tyus. After a scoreless two minutes, Haifa went on a 6-0 scoring run that was cut off by a triple from Smith on the left side. A backwards layup and one by Ohayon tied the score soon after, but Haifa continued to battle. Points by Sofo Schortsanitis and a layup and one by Randle ended the period with Maccabi holding a 15-14 lead.
The second quarter opened with more points from Randle, but Haifa responded and took a two point lead. Ohayon and MarQuez Haynes scored to put Maccabi back on top, 21-20 three and a half minutes into the period. Points from the foul line by Jake Cohen and Haynes extended Maccabi's lead to 27-20 at the halfway mark. Threes by Smith and Cohen and more points from Haynes made it 42-34 Maccabi at the end of the half.
Haifa started the second half with another 6-0 run that put them within two. Tyus took a hard foul, and Ohayon increased Maccabi's lead from downtown (assist Randle) 49-43 halfway through the period. Haifa woke up and grabbed a 54-53 lead with less than two minutes left in the period, but once again it was Smith who stopped them in their tracks with a triple from the right corner. The lead changed hands a couple of times before the quarter ended on a putback slam by Smith that tied the score at 60-60.
A layup by Randle and two dunks by Sofo gave Maccabi a 66-65 lead three minutes into the fourth quarter, but the yellows couldn't open a commanding lead. After five minutes the score was still close, with Maccabi holding a slim 69-68 lead after points by Sylven Landesberg. The teams continued to trade buckets, until Haifa took an 82-77 lead with a minute remaining. Points by Landesberg and Smith put Maccabi within two, 83-81 with :21 on the clock. Pargo's shot from the right corner overshot the mark, but Randle was there to tap it in, tying the score at 83-83 with six seconds to go. Randle went on to deny Haifa a game-winning shot with a huge block at the top of the arc, and the game went to overtime.
Both teams were clearly exhausted as the extra period got underway, but Maccabi grabbed the advantage early with points by Landesberg and Pargo, and the reigning Israeli Cup holder hung on to defeat Maccabi Haifa 90-87 and qualify for this year's Israeli Cup Final, to be held on Thursday, against Hapoel Jerusalem.