Maccabi Tel Aviv overcame its first test of the season on Thursday night, coming
back from a halftime deficit to defeat Hapoel Jerusalem 88-77 in the Winner Cup
final in Rishon Lezion.
Jerusalem led throughout the first half, with
Brad Greenberg’s men taking a seven-point margin (41-34) into the
However, Maccabi ultimately had too much fire power for Jerusalem,
and dominated the second half on the way to its fourth straight triumph in the
“This win is significant as we had plenty to lose
had we not triumphed,” said Maccabi coach David Blatt. “This wasn’t an easy
tournament but I’m pleased with our performance.”
Sylven Landesberg led
Maccabi with 21 points, while Devin Smith scored 19, Ricky Hickman added 15
points and Joe Ingles contributed 14 points.
Josh Duncan had 20 points
and eight rebounds for Jerusalem, which despite the defeat will draw
encouragement from its showing in the Winner Cup, reaching its first final in
any competition since 2010 and giving Maccabi a run for its money.
had trouble guarding them in the second half after guarding really well in the
first half,” explained Greenberg.
“I like what I’ve seen from the team so
far and hopefully this means good things for us.”
After blowing out its
opponents in the first period of the quarterfinals and semifinals, Maccabi faced
a far sterner examination on Thursday.
A Derwin Kitchen three-point play
opened an eight-point Hapoel gap (11-3), and although Tel Aviv quickly closed to
within one possession, Hapoel maintained the initiative until the
Jerusalem, which played without key Israelis Yotam Halperin and
Yaniv Green, was ahead by seven points after the first quarter (25-18), a gap it
still held at halftime (41-34).
However, Jerusalem couldn’t contain
Maccabi for much longer, with the yellow- and-blue outscoring Hapoel 29-17 in
the third quarter to take over proceedings.
Landesberg built on his
excellent display against Hapoel Eilat in the semis, scoring six quick points to
complete Maccabi’s comeback (45-43) as part of a 13-0 surge which gave Tel Aviv
an advantage it wouldn’t relinquish.
A Yogev Ohayon turnaround jumper
capped a 24-3 run (58-46), but Ronald Dupree kept Jerusalem within striking
distance ahead of the final frame (63-58) after sinking his second triple of the
However, Landesberg maintained his perfect shooting night,
improving to 7-of- 7 from the field (before missing his final two shots of the
game), to take the lead back to nine points (67-58) and there was only going to
be one winner after Smith’s basket from beyond the arc opened a 13- point
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