Maccabi Tel Aviv extended its BSL winning streak to 14 games on Monday night, humbling cross-town rival Hapoel Tel Aviv 90-75 in the derby at Nokia Arena.
The final margin didn’t do Maccabi’s dominance justice, with the yellow-and-blue all but securing the victory by halftime, opening a 22-point gap (50-28) by the break.
Maccabi returned to the top of the standings with the triumph, improving to a 19-4 record and reestablishing a one-game lead over Hapoel Jerusalem in the battle for the No. 1 seed in the playoffs.
Maccabi will be aiming to take a significant step towards wrapping up first place when it hosts Jerusalem next Sunday. A 15th straight league win will give Tel Aviv a twogame cushion with just four games to play until the start of the best-of-five quarterfinal playoffs.
Maccabi and Hapoel Tel Aviv, as well as both Hapoel Jerusalem and Maccabi Haifa, have already secured home-court advantage in the quarterfinals, with the league being split in two last week after all 12 teams completed their 22-game schedule. The top four will play each other twice more, while the bottom eight sides will face one another once more for the four remaining playoff berths.
The team in last place will be demoted to the National League.
After losing the first derby of the season, Maccabi crushed Hapoel by 32 points last month. David Blatt’s men showed the Reds no mercy once more on Monday, steamrolling Hapoel in the first half.
A strong finish to the first period saw the hosts open a seven-point gap (20-13) and Maccabi outscored Hapoel 30-15 in the second quarter to establish a 50-28 margin from which the visitors never threatened to come back.
Devin Smith had 21 points and eight rebounds in 22 minutes for the winners, with Sylven Landesberg scoring 17 points for Maccabi, which visits Partizan Belgrade in the Euroleague on Thursday.
Carlon Brown led Hapoel with 17 points and eight boards, while Raviv Limonad added 16 points, ensuring he has still netted at least 15 points in all 18 of the BSL games he has played this season.
“Hapoel is having a great season and is one of the best teams in the country, but at the moment we are better.” said Maccabi coach Blatt.