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One round to the end of the regular season all things are finally closed. Ironi Nahariya promised their participation in the Final Four by winning Bnei Hasharon at home and also thanked to Marcus Hatten (186-G-80, college: St.John's) (186-G-80, college: St.John's), who nailed a triple for HTA in Galil Elyon, brought them the win and buried Galil chances to squeeze to the top 4.

The Final Four Games:

Maccabi Tel Aviv - Ironi Nahariya

Hapoel Jerusalem - Maccabi Rishon Lezion

Ironi Nahariya 73 - Bnei Hasharon 66

Although their so-so performance, Ironi Nahariya did it again and grabbed the last ticket to the final four by beating weak Bnei Hasharon, who played with only one foreigner. Ugonna Onyekwe did all he wanted to in the paint, and if Bnei would have play with another some they could take this game. In that shape, Nahariya don't have what to look for in the FF. At least they got back Cory Carr, who came back after an injury that left him out for 3 months.

An 8-0 run in the opening of the second quarter gave the hosts some air and 29-21 advantage, but it was all erased until the last quarter. The last 10 minutes were opened with a 0-21 from the visitors led by Guy Pnini, but then came the news from Galil that released Nahariya's players and let them play more leisurely. Alvin Young and Jayson Wells led the local comeback (22-7 until the end) and and gave the signal to start the celebrations.

Nahariya (21+18+12+22): Young 19 + 6 rbs, Hill 14 + 6 rbs. Wells 12 + 6 rbs, Carr 11, Peleg 6, Kookiah 6, Sukar 5

Bnei (21+12+15+18): Onyekwe 22 + 9 rbs, Pnini 21+5 as, Lahat 12, Rokni 6, Hanochi 3 + 7 rbs, Kohanky 2

Hapoel Jerusalem 88 - Ironi Ramat Gan 76

No interest in this edges encounter. RG, who promised her drop to the second league in the previous round, didn't have much to fight for and that's what brought us another game for the protocol. Jerusalem recovered the last loss in Ashkelon and didn't have many problems to beat the old-new inhabitant in the National. Guy Kantor and Raviv Limonade, two who didn't get much chances most of the season, took advantage of this opportunity and had some good minutes in the last home game of the reds.

HAJ (34+17+18+19): Jenkins 16, Slay 15 + 6 rbs, Mason 11 + 5 as, Austin 10, Limonade 10, , Markovich 9 + 8 rbs, Naor 8, Kozikaro 7, Tapiro 2

RG (20+21+18+16): Awojobi 26 + 7 rbs, Lev 12, Madison 12 + 9 rbs, Gardner 8, Grinboirn 8, Ben Chimol 5, Nir 4

Maccabi Tel Aviv 90 - Ramat Hasharon 61

Another edges encounter, even more boring then the previous, that the identity of its winner was not questioned at all the since the second quarter. RH, who released this Saturday the foreigners Derrick Tarver and David Logan in order to save some money, was helpless although the third five that the yellows played with. Solomon, Burstein and Arnold rested, while Kirk Penney and kid Omri Caspi had a lot of minutes before the FF (20 pts in 31 minutes and 12 in 26 respectively).

MTA (23+22+24+21): Penney 20 + 6 rbs, Sharp 17 (5/8 for 3) + 7 rbs, AP 13, Caspi 12 + 6 as, Green 10 + 7 rbs, Shason 5 + 9 rbs, Vujcic 4 + 8 rbs + 6 as, Baston 4, Fanan 3, Dotan 2

RH (18+6+13+24): Raynolds 16 + 18 rbs, R. Berkovich 16 + 7 as, Skjoldenbrand 8, Okafur 6 + 8 rbs, E. Elyahu 6, Atlas 5, N. Berkovich 4

Hapoel Galil Elyon/Golan 79 - Hapoel Tel Aviv 81

As said, Nahariya's ticket to the final four was promised earlier, thanked to a huge triple made by great Marcus Hatten which gave the guests the win in a very closed match and left no chance for Galil to catch up Nahariya. HTA, trailing 79-75 with 10 seconds on the buzzer, had a big comeback which started with an amazing three pointer of Gerry Gendal and set 79-78. Bryant Smith went to the foul line but missed both shots for Galil, and then came Hatten with the triple from middle court that decided - Galil won't be in the FF. Maybe next year. Another big event was near the HT break, when the guest coach Effi Birnbaum lost his temper due to a argument with the referee, what caused his sent off.

Galil (12+24+24+19): Gordon 21+6 as, Bratic 15, Nsonwu 14 + 7 rbs, Bozov 13+6 as, L. Elyahu 6, Smith 6, Okhayon 4

HTA (17+23+20+21): Hatten 32 + 7 rbs, Roberts 17, Lamizana 9 + 9 rbs, Yakusi 8 + 8 rbs, Ferrington 6 + 7 rbs, Gandal 3, Ytzhak 3, Katz 3

Maccabi Rishon Lezion 86 - Elitzur Ashkelon 78

The supporting fans of Rishon didn't miss yesterday's match andicame to "Gan Nachum" to thank their heroes for the wonderful season (1,000 spectertors), and got back a proper reply. Ashkelon succeeded to hang on for only one half, while in the third quarter Rishon ran 25-14 leading by Moran Roth and Ryan Sidney. James Head tried to rehabilitate Ashkelon in the last ten, but not successfully. Praises deserved to Lee Matthews, the oldest player in the league, who gave a great evening of 23 pts (8/11 FG), 7 rbs, 4 stls and 2 as.

Rishon (22+18+25+21): Matthews 23 + 7 rbs, Sneed 21+ 6 rbs + 15 as, Sidney 11 + 9 rbs, Roth 10, Gilchrist 9, Farchi 5, Sheinfeld 4, Eitan 3

Ashkelon (14+24+14+26): Head 23 + 17 rbs, Mizrachi 18, Snow 16, Sha'ashu'a 12, Tolbert 7 + 7 rbs + 5 as, Kurtz 2

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The last gameday of the regular season had no effect on the key standings in the league. Maccabi Tel Aviv, Hapoel Jerusalem, Rishon Lezion and Nahariya qualified to the Final Four and the pairs were set before the last night. Maccabi will face Nahariya and Hapoel will play Rishon. The two teams that will move to the National League are Ramat Gan and Ramat Hasharon.

Ironi Ashkelon 77 - Ironi Nahariya 93

Ashkelon (19+24+15+19): Tolbert 21, Head 13, Snow 12, Kurtz 12, Orland 7, Cohen 4, Bukra 3, Mizrakhi 3, Sha'ashoua 2

Nahariya (22+25+26+20): Young 28, Hill 25, Wells 15, Peleg 10, Soucar 6, Ben David 4, Kukia 2, Angel 2

Bnei Hasharon 73 - Galil Elyon 85

Bnei (16+18+22+17): Onyekwe 27, Pnini 21, Matalon 8, Lahat 6, Rokni 4, Assaf 3, Cisse 2 + 10 rbs, Khanokhi 2

Galil (20+19+23+23): Bratic 25, Smith 17, Bozov 13, Nsonwu 12, Eliyahu 10, Lifshitz 5, Gordon 3

Givat Shmuel 76 - Maccabi Tel Aviv 100

Givat (12+21+18+25): Bowers 20, Wallace 12, Tamir 10, Brener 10, Straight 8, Na'aimi 8, Davidi 5, Cohen 3

MTA (23+24+23+30): Vujcic 18 + 10 rbs, Parker 16, Shason 16, Baston 15, Solomon 12, Green 8, Burstein 8, Sharp 5, Dotan 2

Ramat Hasharon 78 - Hapoel Jerusalem 97

RH (18+24+25+30): Skjoldenbrand 15 + 6 rbs, Berkovic N. 13, Reynolds 13, Berkovic 10, Eliyahu 10, Inbar 5, Okafor 4, Karbayov 4, Shifer 2, Bash 2

HAJ (18+24+25+30): Kozikaro 18 + 10 rbs, Tapiro 18, Slay 13, Austin 12, Limonad 9, Jenkins 8, Kantor 7, Naor 5, Markovic 4, Mason 3

Ramat Gan 96 - Rishon Lezion 75

RG (16+26+32+22): King 25, Gardner 22, Nir 17, Awojobi 9 + 8 rbs + 7 as, Greenboim 7, Lev 7, Zalinbaba 5, Ben Chimol 4

RL (23+20+20+12): Sneed 15, Roth 14, Mathews 10, Asraf 9, Minoff 8, Gilchrist 5, Sidney 4, Eitan 4, Fishman 2, Dunn 2, Farkhi 2

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The Final Four Games:

Maccabi Tel Aviv - Ironi Nahariya 85-72

Hapoel Jerusalem - Maccabi Rishon Lezion 66-65

La finalissima:

Maccabi Tel Aviv - Hapoel Jerusalem 96-66

A fifth win this season over Hapoel Migdal Jerusalem 96-66 and the 46th Super League Championship. Tal Burstein suffers a torn Achilles Tendon which could keep him out for several months.

Hapoel Jerusalem head coach Erez Edelstein, had many excuses for his team`s four defeats this season vs Maccabi Elite Tel Aviv. Tonight he got a lesson fropm Pini Gershon & his players who proved beyond any doubt that they are still Israel`s number one team.

The 30 points margin was achieved in the final period (32-12). But all throughout the game the Yellows were those who controlled the pace and Jerusalem never came closer than 5 points.

Macabi opened with 9-0 and it took 3 minues & 22 seconds for Roger Mason to put Jerusalem on the scoreboard. Will Solomon was already on the bench with two fouls. Sharon Shason replaced Nikola Vujcic and immediately shot two three pointers that put Maccabi 21-10 up. Maccabi players missed their free throws once & again and enabled Jerusalem to come back to 23-16 at the end of the opening quarter.

Solomon came back for the second half and immediately connected twice (29-20). Maccabi led 37-29 but a turnover by Solomon was exploited by Edelstein`s team to come back to 37-32. Maccabi responded with three pointers by Burstein & Shason (45-32). A three pointer on the buzzer by Mason made the score at half time 45-35.

Solomon produced two three pointers to put Maccabi on 54-42 but then he commited his fourth personal foul and was taken off. Another three pointer by Burstein gave Maccabi a 58-46. The referees called two consecutive offensive fouls on Green & Shason and a three pointer by Mario Austin made the score 60-54. But Vujcic & Parker closed the third period on 64-54.

The final quarter was an one sided show with all Maccabi players taking part and make the final score 96-66. It was another League & Cup double and the 13th championship in a row for the Yellows. Derrick Sharp lifted the plate and the players were awarded the championship rings. The 2005/06 is over.

The only sore note of the night the torn Achilles Tendon suffered by Tal Burstein which may keep him out for several months.

The main reason for Maccabi`s impressive win was their excellent defense which completely eliminated the Jerusalem guards. Horace Jenkins made 0-8 FG, Roger Mason 3-9 and Meir Tapiro 104. Together they scored 15 pts.

Before the game Anthony Parker was crowned 2006/06 MVP of the Super League. And he responded with another efficient performance producing an index rating of 29 through 13 ors in 57% FG, 6 rbds, 8 asts, 3 stls & 7 received fouls.

Other Maccabi scorers: Vujcic 20 in 67% FG, 6 rbds, Solomon 14 pts in 62% FG & 7 stls, Shason 12 pts (4-6 for three) & 9 rbds, Sharp 12 (3-3 for three), Burstein 9, Baston 9 pts & 6 rbds, Green 5, Dotan 2 pts.

Top scorers for Jerusalem: Slay 29, Austin 18 & 7 rbds, Naor 11 pts.

ff3.jpg

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