Hapoel no match for Maccabi in TA tussle
By ALLON SINAI
Yellow-and-blue dominate Reds as classic rivalry renewed; Hap J’lem triumphs in Rishon.
As if six years hadn’t past since the last derby, Maccabi Tel Aviv thrashed
Hapoel Tel Aviv 91-72 at Nokia Arena on Sunday night to claim a sweet victory in
Israeli basketball’s ultimate grudge match.
The showdown between the Tel
Aviv clubs was the highlight of the Israeli basketball season for over 50 years
and much like most of those past encounters, Maccabi was the dominant force yet
again on Sunday.
Hapoel’s short roster gave the yellow-and-blue a fight
for much of the first half, but the hosts pulled ahead in the closing stages of
the second period and secured the win in the third frame.
led Maccabi (7- 1) with 20 points, while Ricky Hickman scored 15 and Devin Smith
and Yogev Ohayon added 12 points each.
Demontez Stitt had 20 points for
Hapoel (4-4), with Curtis Kelly contributing 18 points.
Maccabi used a
full-court press at the start of the game in the hope of scoring some easy
points from turnovers and Smith’s three-pointer gave the hosts an early
sevenpoint gap (9-2).
The margin soon reached nine points, but despite
playing without its inspirational captain Matan Naor, Hapoel showed admirable
fighting spirit and took its first lead of the night after a Kelly basket capped
an 11-1 run (15-14).
Maccabi still had the edge after 10 minutes thanks
to David Logan’s points (21-19) and the lead would exchange hands time and again
in the second period after Kelly put Hapoel back in front
However, the yellow-andblue would blow the game open with a late
10-0 run, with Hickman’s three-point play making it 46-35.
Maccabi took a
nine-point cushion (50-41) into the break and the game was all but decided
three-and-a-half minutes into the second half.
Smith’s old fashioned
threepoint move capped a 9-0 surge, opening a 16 point (59- 43) gap from which
Hapoel never threatened to come back.
Elsewhere, Hapoel Jerusalem moved
back to .500 on Sunday, beating Maccabi Rishon Lezion 86-81 on the
After losing at home to Ironi Ashkelon last week, Jerusalem (4-4)
continued its erratic ways, defeating a strong Rishon team thanks to Josh
Duncan’s late heroics.
Duncan scored 11 of his team’s final 12 points to
push Hapoel over the finishing line, ending the game with 26
Jacob Pullen added 17 points and nine assists for Jerusalem, with
Craig Smith and Raviv Limonad scoring 13 points each.
Willie Warren had
20 points for Rishon, which fell to 4-3.
Also Sunday, Ashkelon and Hapoel
Gilboa/Galil claimed their second straight wins after only getting off the mark
Ashkelon surprised Hapoel Holon 93-88 on the road behind new
signing Marque Perry’s 21 points, with Marcus Dove contributing 18 points and 12
Lawrence Hill had 17 points for Holon, which lost for the
fourth consecutive time, falling to 3-5.
Gilboa beat Maccabi Ashdod
90-70, effectively clinching the win by outscoring its opponent 24-12 in the
third frame to take a 15-point gap (68-53) into the final 10
Jamar Smith had 22 points for Gilboa (2-6), with Diamon Simpson
leading Ashdod (1- 6) with 16 points and 11 boards.
On Monday, Hapoel
Eilat welcomes Barak Netanya and Bnei Herzliya visits Maccabi Haifa.