A seismic event occurred in the Israel Premier League as Maccabi Tel Aviv was knocked out of the play-offs at the semi-final stage. The spoils for one of the biggest shocks ever in Israeli Basketball go to Hapoel Eilat, with the unfancied visitors grabbing a shock 76-79 win in the series decider. There are plenty of interesting facts about this colossal upset, but perhaps the biggest is the fact that Eilat managed to secure the victory away from home.
To understand the true implication of this loss for Maccabi Tel Aviv, it is important to remember the history of the club. The giant of Israeli hoops, Maccabi Tel Aviv boasts a record 51 league titles (the nearest challenger is Hapoel Tel Aviv with just 5). On top of that, Maccabi has contested every finals series since 1954 and along the way has won the Euroleague six times. The shock of losing at the semi-final of the Israel Premier League comes just 12 months after the club lifted its sixth Euroleague crown, while this season they were defending their 51st Premier League title.
All the credit must go to Hapoel Eilat though as the visitors capped a remarkable comeback by seeing off the defending champs. Eilat was 2-0 down in the series and looked down and out, but three consecutive victories have put the club within touching distance of its first ever championship.
It was a fascinating game in which Maccabi Tel Aviv used its home court advantage to secure a solid enough lead through the first quarter, ending the opening ten minutes with a 21-14 lead. Eilat responded in the second quarter with a 15-17 run, but through the long break it was the hosts who held the lead, with the scoreboard reading 36-34. The third quarter proved to be the difference as Hapoel Eilat drained 29 points and kept Maccabi at 20 points to take the lead through thirty minutes of regulation (56-63). The home team attempted to rally in the fourth act and even though Maccabi Tel Aviv won the closing frame, it was not by enough to stop the guests from snatching the series win.
Afik Nissim scored 21 points to pace Hapoel Eilat, while Adrien Uter had a double-double of 15 points and 12 rebounds. Kevin Palmer managed 12 points and 7 rebounds in the win, followed by Khalif Wyatt with 10 points and 5 assists.
Yohev Ohayon topped Maccabi Tel Aviv with 19 points, with Jeremy Pargo offering 18 points and 8 assists.