Hapoel Tel Aviv defeated Maccabi Tel Aviv 83-82 to take a heated derby in dramatic fashion at Yad Eliyahu on Sunday night, sending the Reds fans into ecstasy.
James Young nailed a fadeaway jumper over Oz Blazyer with under a minute left in regulation time to notch the stunning victory on the yellow-and-blue’s home court.
Maccabi and Hapoel went neck and neck throughout the hard-fought 40 minutes of end or end action as Jalen Reynolds and Keenan Evans paced Ioannis Sfairopoulos’s squad while Young, J’Covan Brown and JP Tokoto matched the intensity play by play for Danny Franco’s team.
However, key baskets by Bar Timor, as well as Brown and Idan Zalmanson, at the end of the third quarter with Maccabi up 12 points helped cut the lead down to 66-59 by the start of the final frame.
Timor, Brown and Zalmanson continued to score tough baskets down the stretch as Young put in the biggest one of them all to snatch the win and paint the city of Tel Aviv Red.
Young led all scorers with 26 points, Tokoto added 17 points, Brown scored 16 points and Zalmanson chipped in with 12 points for Hapoe in the win.
Reynolds led Maccabi with 19 points, Evans added 15 points while Ante Zizic scored 12 points in the loss.
“We are on the way up after having started the season a bit on the downside,” said a thrilled Danny Franco. “We have improved game to game and came into this matchup very focused and we knew that the arena would be packed. We hadn’t played a team the level of Maccabi yet this season and I’m happy that we knew how to stay in the game at the end of the third quarter when the game could have gotten away from us.” Sfairopoulos was crushed after the contest.
“Today is a bad day for our club, players and management and I want to apologize to our fans,” said Maccabi's Greek coach. “Small details decided this game and we held them to 13 points in the third quarter. We wanted to keep that up in the last quarter but they scored tough shots and won the game.”
In the capital city, meanwhile, Hapoel Jerusalem escaped with a 73-69 win over Maccabi Rishon Lezion as Retin Obasohan flirted with a triple-double in the close victory.
The Reds dominated play over the course of the first 34 minutes of play as Obasohan, Suleiman Braimoh and Sean Kilpatrick led the way to a 67-55 lead with 6:44 left in the game.
But Tu Holloway and Diamon Simpson had other plans as Rishon rallied to tie the contest up at 69-69 with less than a minute to go.
However, just as he has done all season long, Obasohan put Yotam Halperin’s team on his shoulders and scored a driving layup to put Jerusalem up for good as Holloway missed a three-point attempt and Kilpatrick hit his free throws to give the hosts the win.
“We came into the game in better shape and deeper than Rishon,” Halperin said. “They were able to make this game difficult and they came back. I’ve got to take off my hat to their team and interim coach Alon Stein. We were up by 16 and we made every mistake in the book. We are still very far away from playing our best basketball.”
Obasohan scored 21 points, grabbed 10 boards and added seven assists, Braimoh chipped in with 19 points and nine rebounds while Kilpatrick scored 19 points in the win. Holloway led Rishon with 19 points and Diamon Simpson scored 14 points in the loss.
Meanwhile, Ness Ziona downed Hapoel Hapoel Haifa 86-77 to get back onto the winning track after a couple of losses.
Lior Lubin’s squad grabbed a 52-44 halftime lead on the strength of Tim Soares, Frank Bartley and Diante Garrett and never looked back as the hosts were able to keep Will Rayman and Kadeem Allen at bay.
Bartley led all scorers with 25 points, Soares added 20 points and right rebounds while Garrett chipped in with 18 points in the win. Rayman scored 17 points and Allen added 13 points in the defeat.
Elsewhere, Hapoel Holon just snuck by Hapoel Beersheba 75-74 thanks to a Guy Pnini game-winning basket as time ran down.
The Southern Reds held their own early, but a strong second quarter by Joe Ragland and Chris Johnson gave Maurizio Buscaglia’s Holon squad a 46-39 lead at halftime.
Christoforos Livadiotis’s Beersheba team came back with a big fourth quarter to take the lead in the last minute, but veteran Pnini’s heroics gave Holon the important win.
Johnson led all scorers with 21 points, Ragland added 13 points and eight assists and Michale Kyser chipped in with 13 points for Holon in the win. Dererk Pardon and Junior Etou each scored 16 points for Beersheba in the loss.