Hapoel Tel Aviv’v Raviv Limonad.
(photo credit: ADI AVISHAI)
Hapoel Tel Aviv inaugurated its new arena in memorable fashion on Sunday night, beating Hapoel Jerusalem 81-67 in front of 3,500 fans, who packed their club’s new home at the former site of the Drive-in.
Tel Aviv had played at Hadar Yosef Arena in recent seasons after its Ussishkin Arena had been demolished by the Tel Aviv Municipality in the summer of 2007.
That ultimately led to the rebirth of the club, with fans setting up an alternative team named Hapoel Ussishkin Tel Aviv. Slowly but surely the team climbed up the divisions and five years ago also took over the name and heritage rights of the original Hapoel Tel Aviv.
The final piece to the club’s resurrection was to once more have an arena it could call its own and that moment finally arrived on Sunday.
Hapoel players overcame the excitement of the occasion to dominate Jerusalem in the fourth quarter, on the way to a comfortable victory which saw it improve to 8-6 in the BSL.
Matters for Jerusalem, on the other hand, are going from bad to worse.
Danny Franco’s team fell to 9-5 following its fifth straight league defeat, with the past two over the last five days coming by an average 16.5 points.
A 12-2 Tel Aviv run gave it a 36-32 lead at the break, and there were still only five points (60-55) to separate the teams with 10 minutes to play. However, a 14-2 surge gave the hosts an 18-point gap (77-59) Jerusalem was never going to erase.
Yancy Gates was superb for the winners, finishing with 32 points and nine rebounds in 32 minutes. Raviv Limonad added 13 points and 12 assists, while Durand Scott also scored 13 points.
Bracey Wright and Lior Eliyahu netted 18 points each for Jerusalem, which looked lost once more and received just six points from Donta Smith in 39 minutes. Smith did contribute 11 rebounds and five assists for Jerusalem, which was playing without the injured Derwin Kitchen, Bar Timor and Yaniv Green.
Week 14 action will continue on Monday with: Bnei Herzliya vs. Hapoel Holon; Hapoel Gilboa/ Galil vs. Ironi Nahariya; Maccabi Ashdod vs. Ironi Ness Ziona; Maccabi Haifa vs. Maccabi Rishon Lezion.