Hapoel Jerusalem captures State Cup title

Second-half surge propels Katash’s Reds past Maccabi Rishon Lezion by 15 points in final.

By JOSHUA HALICKMAN
February 15, 2019 04:01
3 minute read.
HAPOEL JERUSALEM guard Tamir Blatt drives to the basket against Maccabi Rishon Lezion

HAPOEL JERUSALEM guard Tamir Blatt drives to the basket against Maccabi Rishon Lezion during Jerusalem’s 82-67 victory in last night’s State Cup final in the capital. (photo credit: DANNY MARON)

 
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Hapoel Jerusalem defeated Maccabi Rishon Lezion on Thursday night 82-67 to win the 2019 Israel State Cup. After a tight first half, the capital city side broke open the game with a 29-8 third quarter as the fans celebrated the title deep into the night.

For Oded Katash this was his first as a head coach and Jerusalem’s first since 2008. The trophy was presented by President Reuven Rivlin as the team hoisted it up in the air to the delight of the Reds faithful.

The Jerusalem bench dominated the scoresheet as J’Covan Brown and James Feldeine scored 19 and 15 points, respectively, while Tashawn Thomas added 14 points in the victory. Alex Hamilton (16 points), Cameron Long (13) and DeShawn Stephens (13) led Rishon in the loss.

There were many storylines entering the winner-take-all matchup beginning with the battle of the coaches.

Jerusalem’s Katash looked to take his first title with Jerusalem as well as his first State Cup as a head coach after winning one as a player with Maccabi Tel Aviv. Katash also has one league championship under his belt when he captured the title with Hapoel Gilboa/Galil in 2010 by defeating Maccabi Tel Aviv in Yad Eliyahu.

On the other side of the court, Rishon Lezion coach Guy Goodes, having won the State Cup both as a player and as a coach with Maccabi Tel Aviv, looked to add another piece of hardware to his trophy case after joining the team during the first half of the season.

Adding to the intrigue was a flashback to the 2016 league final, in which Rishon shocked Jerusalem and its fans to take the title on Hapoel’s home court in the capital, a loss that left veteran and now Reds captain Lior Eliyahu in tears.

Add to that two wins this season by Rishon over Jerusalem, once in the preseason Winner Cup tournament and in the regular season (both at Beit Maccabi in Rishon Lezion), and the stage was set for an electric showdown.


Hapoel Jerusalem had advanced the final after defeating defending Cup holder Hapoel Holon 91-77 thanks to superb performances by Feldeine and Brown while Rishon punched its ticket with a 86-70 victory over Hapoel Tel Aviv as Hamilton and Diamon Simpson led the way.

With over 8,000 Jerusalem fans decked out in red and another couple of thousand Rishon supporters in orange, the two sides began the game trading baskets with Goodes’s squad ahead 8-7 midway through the first quarter thanks to a pair of triples by Long and Stephens. The Reds, who were wearing black just as they did in their semifinal victory, rattled off a 7-0 run punctuated by a three-pointer by Brown, who ended the frame with eight points as Jerusalem held a 23-18 advantage after 10 minutes.

The second quarter began just as the first as Feldeine and Hamilton traded buckets from beyond the arc. However, Hapoel’s Josh Owens picked up has third foul and Jerusalem continued to have trouble with Rishon’s size, but led 33-27 with 3:30 left in the half.

Baskets by Tashawn Thomas and DeSean Butler gave Jerusalem a bit more breathing room, but Stephens scored two on a put-back at the buzzer as Rishon went into halftime down by only a couple of points (42-40).

Jerusalem broke away with a 7-0 run to start the third quarter as Tamir Blatt, Thomas and Butler all hit buckets, forcing Goodes to quickly call a time-out, but the Reds continued to pour on the offense to take a 57-43 lead with 4:20 left in the frame.

Things went from bad to worse for Rishon as Feldeine sent the Jerusalem crowd into a frenzy and into the final quarter with a 23-point lead (71-48).

Owens joined the scoring party with a fourth-quarter dunk as the celebration began early for Hapoel Jerusalem as it captured its fifth State Cup, and first in 11 years.

Joshua Halickman, the Sports Rabbi, covers Israeli sports and organizes Israel sports adventures for tourists and residents. Follow the Sports Rabbi on Twitter @thesportsrabbi or visit www.sportsrabbi.com. Feel free to contact the Sports Rabbi via email at sportsrabbi9@gmail.com

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