Yotam Halperin led Hapoel Jerusalem to a nail-biting 87-85 victory over his
former team Maccabi Tel Aviv at Malha Arena on Monday night, scoring 19 points –
including the go-ahead three-pointer with 25 seconds to play, thanks to some
unexpected help from referee Gili Oved.
With Maccabi leading by a point,
Derwin Kitchen’s wayward pass was on its way into the stands before Oved
inadvertently kept the ball in play, failing to react quickly enough and move
out of the way.
The ball fell right into the hands of Halperin and the
guard, who was close to making a return to Maccabi during the summer, sank his
fourth triple of the night, but not before a fortuitous bounce off the rim, to
give Jerusalem a lead it wouldn’t relinquish.
“They always say that to
beat Maccabi you need to play well and also have some luck,” said Halperin, who
led all scorers.
“It felt like it all happened in slow motion. There was
an amazing atmosphere. The biggest progress we have made at Hapoel this season
is that we are focusing on our own play and not on other teams.”
Parakhouski added 14 points for Hapoel, with Ronald Dupree and Kitchen scoring
13 points each for the hosts. Lior Eliyahu had six points in his first game
against Maccabi since leaving the yellow- and-blue in the summer.
Blu led Maccabi with 17 points, with Guy Pnini building on his recent excellent
form with 15 points.
Devin Smith, who missed a three at the buzzer,
finished with a double-double of 13 points and 10 rebounds for Tel Aviv, which
dropped to its fourth road defeat in five BSL games despite hitting 20-of-29
two-point attempts (69%) and 12-of-28 shots (43%) from beyond the
While Jerusalem improved to a 6-3 record with its sixth league win
in its past seven games, Maccabi, which played without big-men Shawn James and
Sofoklis Schortsanitis, fell to what was once an unthinkable 5-4.
yellow-and-blue lost five regular season games during all of last season’s
erratic campaign, which ended with a defeat to Maccabi Haifa in the BSL final.
Tel Aviv lost a combined three games in the two previous seasons.
tell me what happened on that final play,” said a bemused Tel Aviv coach David
Blatt. “It was an outstanding game and we lost because of one shot. We played
well, but failed in the small details.”
The teams traded three pointers
for much of the first period, with Hapoel ultimately taking a two-point edge
(28- 26) into the second quarter.
Maccabi improved its defensive play in
the second frame, holding the hosts to 13 points, and four consecutive points by
Pnini gave Tel Aviv its biggest gap of the night (41-33).
closed to within four points (45-41) by the break and was trailing by just three
points (70-67) with 10 minutes to play.
The visitors scored the first
four points of the fourth period to open a seven-point margin, but Jerusalem
moved back in front with an 11-2 run, setting up a dramatic final five
Blu’s free throws gave Maccabi a one-point advantage (85-84)
with 51 seconds remaining, but referee Oved came to Jerusalem’s rescue and
Halperin made the most of the opportunity, hitting a clutch three to secure a
Also Monday, Hapoel Tel Aviv improved to 4-4 with a 92-73
victory at Barak Netanya (4-5).
Carlon Brown had 22 points for Hapoel,
which was in complete control after taking a 49-35 lead into the
Dawan Robinson scored 20 points for Netanya.
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