Maccabi Tel Aviv claimed its fifth straight State Cup and 41st in club history on Thursday night, overcoming Hapoel Eilat 80-73 at Nokia Arena.
The yellow-and-blue found itself down by six points after six minutes (14-8), but would hold Eilat to a mere four points in the next eight minutes, going on a 27-4 run to seize control of the encounter.
Eilat never lost hope, closing to within five points midway through the fourth quarter, but came no closer and Maccabi lifted yet another title.
David Blu led Tel Aviv with 22 points, hitting four three-pointers.
Yogev Ohayon finished with 15 points, while Sylven Landesberg and Devin Smith scored 11 and 10 points, respectively, for coach David Blatt, who has still not lost a cup game as Maccabi coach, collecting his sixth State Cup after improving his record to 25-0.
Yancy Gates netted 15 points for Eilat, which was playing in its first ever cup final. Terrence Roderick and Kevin Palmer added 13 and 12 points, respectively.
Despite the fact the final was soldout, the arena was far from full at the tip-off after around 2,000 fans were stuck in long queues when trying to pick up their tickets.
They eventually shuffled into the arena and saw Eilat turn the ball over in its first three possessions but still score the first points of the night courtesy of a Gates jumper.
A sloppy Maccabi committed five turnovers in the first six minutes of the game, allowing Gates to take Eilat’s lead to six points (14-8) and his personal tally to nine points.
However, Maccabi soon regained its composure, holding Eilat to just two points in the final four minutes of the first period to take a 21-16 advantage into the second frame after Blu scored seven straight points before Landesberg capped the surge.
Blu began the second period with another three-pointer and Landesberg, who spent the entire semifinal on the bench, continued his strong showing, scoring five points to open a 14-point cushion (30-16).
It took Eilat three-and-a-half minutes to score its first points of the second quarter, but Blu immediately replied with a three at the other end and Ohayon’s basket took the gap to 17 points (35-18).
Eilat closed to within 13 points by the break (43-30) and Nitzan Hanochi’s triple to begin the second half cut the deficit to 10 points.
After hitting just 1-of-8 three-point attempts in the first half, Eilat netted 3-of-5 attempts from beyond the arc to start the third period, with Palmer’s triple bringing the southerners within single digits (52-43).
But Eilat failed to come any closer in the third frame and still had a mountain to climb after entering the final 10 minutes down by 10 points (58-48).
Oded Katash’s side never gave up the chase, though, with two consecutive dunks by Gates bringing Eilat within striking distance (65-60).
However, the hopes of the more than 2,000 Eilat supporters, who made the long journey north from Israel’s southernmost city, were soon dashed, with Maccabi scoring the next six points to reestablish a double- digit margin (71-60).
Eilat fought back to close within six points (73-67) in the final two minutes, but it was too little too late, with Maccabi maintaining its composure from the free-throw line to preserve its hold on the cup.
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