Hapoel Jerusalem forward Donta Smith dunks two of his 24 points over Maccabi Tel Aviv's Devin Smith (right) and Sylven Landesberg during last night's 93-63 win at the Jerusalem Arena..
(photo credit: ADI AVISHAI)
Hapoel Jerusalem made a resounding statement on Sunday night, thrashing Maccabi Tel Aviv 93-63 at the Jerusalem Arena to hand the yellow-and-blue its biggest- ever defeat in local action.
Both sides entered the showdown with a perfect 4-0 record, but only one team showed up on Sunday. Jerusalem improved to 5-0 for the first time in 10 years, seizing control of the encounter after ending the first half with a 15-4 run to open a 40-32 lead.
The second half was a one-man show, with Donta Smith almost single-handedly humiliating Maccabi. Smith’s basket to end the third quarter gave Jerusalem a seven-point gap (63-56) and the hosts steamrolled the yellowand- blue in the final frame.
Jerusalem opened the period with a stunning 28-2 surge to not only secure the prestigious victory, but to also hand Maccabi a defeat it will remember for many years to come.
Jerusalem fans couldn’t stop singing in the packed arena, but coach Danny Franco did his best to downplay the extraordinary triumph.
“No one takes the championship in November,” he said.
“Jerusalem also beat Maccabi by 28 points last season. We were superb, but we must be realistic, the gaps between the teams aren’t this big. I’m happy, but this is only the beginning of the season and I want to play Maccabi here in the finals in June.”
Maccabi was trounced 93-65 at home by Jerusalem last season and it will be happy for this campaign to end exactly like 2013/14 did, with a BSL championship, State Cup and Euroleague title.
“I think we were given a very good lesson tonight,” said Maccabi coach Guy Goodes. “Jerusalem was far more aggressive than us and they deserve every credit.
This was one of those days when nothing goes your way. We’ll see how the season ends.”
Smith led Jerusalem with 24 points, eight rebounds and five assists, with Yotam Halperin adding 16 points. Lior Eliyahu contributed 13 points and 10 boards, while Joseph Jones and Tony Gaffney scored 12 and 11 points, respectively.
“We want to come out and play like champions every game, no matter who we are playing,” said Smith. “Against Maccabi you have to bring your best and that is what we did tonight.”
Brian Randle and Guy Pnini had 13 points each for Maccabi, which entered the game in good form after recording an impressive road victory over Alba Berlin in Euroleague action on Thursday night.
Also Sunday, Maccabi Ashdod finally recorded its first win of the season, edging Hapoel Eilat 88-86 on the road. Eilat’s Khalif Wyatt scored 20 of his 29 points in the final quarter, including 14 in a row at one stage. However, he couldn’t save Eilat from its fourth straight loss. Terrell Harris led Ashdod with 19 points.
Hapoel Tel Aviv returned to winning ways on Sunday, beating Hapoel Gilboa/Galil 84-74. A 14-0 run in the fourth quarter gave the hosts an 11-point gap (77-66) that clinched the win.
Yancy Gates had 21 points and seven boards for Tel Aviv, with Jeremiah Wilson finishing with a double-double of 16 points and 10 rebounds.
On Monday, Ironi Nahariya welcomes Bnei Herzliya, Maccabi Rishon Lezion goes to Hapoel Holon and Maccabi Haifa visits Ironi Ness Ziona.