Hapoel upsets Maccabi in Tel Aviv derby

Hapoel last beat Maccabi at Yad Eliyahu in March 2016 and in the four regular season meetings since was thrashed by an average 20.2 points.

January 3, 2018 03:26
3 minute read.
Hapoel upsets Maccabi in Tel Aviv derby

Hapoel Tel Aviv guard Tywain McKee (right) and Maccabi Tel Aviv’s Norris Cole (left) will clash for the second time in 48 hours tonight when their teams meet in BSL action. . (photo credit: ADI AVISHAI)

Hapoel Tel Aviv snapped Maccabi Tel Aviv’s recent dominance in the derby on Tuesday night, claiming a surprise 77-73 win at Yad Eliyahu Arena in BSL play.

Maccabi registered its sixth straight victory over Hapoel over all competitions on Sunday, triumphing 96-85 in the State Cup quarterfinals.

While Tuesday’s game was of far less consequence than Sunday’s knockout cup tie, Hapoel fans celebrated in the stands long after the final buzzer, with their team having lost its past six encounters with Maccabi, five of them by double-digits.

Hapoel last beat Maccabi at Yad Eliyahu in March 2016 and in the four regular season meetings since was thrashed by an average 20.2 points.

The Reds burst out of the gate on Tuesday, opening an early 15-point gap. Maccabi closed to within two points (39-37) by the break and seemed to have momentum on its side when it built a seven-point lead (60-53) early in the fourth quarter.

However, the yellow-and-blue stunningly lost its way and a late 10-2 Hapoel run would clinch the victory and take the team to a 6-5 record.

Rafi Menco led five Hapoel players in double-figures with 17 points, with Tywain McKee, Adrian Banks and Tomer Ginat scoring 13 points each.

“It took us time to gel this season, but that doesn’t mean anything going forward,” said Menco. “We owed this win to the fans and to the club after what happened in the cup. This is the beauty of basketball. One day you are down and the next day you are back on top.”

Michael Roll had 13 points for Maccabi, which dropped to a 9-2 record in the BSL and suffered just its second defeat in 16 games in local action this season.

Hapoel hit the ground running, outscoring Maccabi 19-4 in the first five minutes of the game. Five straight points by Tywain McKee capped Hapoel’s run and gave the visitors real hope of upsetting the yellow-and-blue.

Maccabi responded with eight straight points in less than two minutes, the first six by Norris Cole, but Hapoel still took a double-digit gap (29- 19) into the second period.

Points were at a premium in the first five minutes of the second frame, with Raviv Limonad’s basket midway through the period giving the visitors a 36-26 margin. Hapoel would continue to struggle on the offensive end for the rest of the half, allowing Maccabi to close the second quarter with an 11-3 run over the final five minutes to cut the deficit to a mere two points at the interval (39-37).

The hosts built on the momentum at the start of the second half, scoring the first six points of the period to take their first lead of the night.

Hapoel got back on track following a timeout by coach Danny Franco, replying with a 10-2 surge. The Reds had a two-point edge (53-51) entering the final 10 minutes and a tight quarter would ensue.

Maccabi scored nine of the first 11 points to seize the momentum (60- 53), but Hapoel would net the next six points to close back to within a single point.

A Rafi Menco three-pointer with just over two minutes to play put the visitors back in front (69-68) and proved to be the go-ahead basket.

McKee completed a 10-2 run with two points from the line, opening a six-point advantage (76-70) to seal a sweet victory.

BSL action continues on Wednesday with games between Hapoel Holon (7-3) and Ironi Nahariya (5-5) and Maccabi Rishon Lezion (5-5) and Hapoel Gilboa/Galil (6-4).

On Thursday, Hapoel Jerusalem (7-3) welcomes Maccabi Haifa (4-6), while Ironi Ness Ziona (3-7) hosts Hapoel Eilat (4-6) and Bnei Herzliya (2-8) visits Maccabi Ashdod (3-7).

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