Surging Hapoel Jerusalem tames Maccabi Tel Aviv

The victory extended Jerusalem’s league winning streak to five in a row and six overall as the yellow-and-blue dropped its first domestic game of the season.

  HAPOEL JERUSALEM guard Speedy Smith (right) had a 14-point-10-assist double-double against Jake Cohen and Maccabi Tel Aviv to lead the Reds to a 80-75 victory over the yellow-and-blue (photo credit: DANNY MARON)
HAPOEL JERUSALEM guard Speedy Smith (right) had a 14-point-10-assist double-double against Jake Cohen and Maccabi Tel Aviv to lead the Reds to a 80-75 victory over the yellow-and-blue
(photo credit: DANNY MARON)

Hapoel Jerusalem stunned Maccabi Tel Aviv 80-75 at Yad Eliyahu this week in the Israeli basketball Classico.

Speedy Smith continued his fine play along with Khadeen Carrington as the Reds controlled the pace of play all game long to take the well-earned win. The victory extended Jerusalem’s league winning streak to five in a row and six overall as the yellow-and-blue dropped its first domestic game of the season.

Aleksandar Dzikic’s squad came out strong from the get-go, with Smith leading the way, but points from Wade Baldwin and Guy Pnini kept host Maccabi close (35-33) at the break.

Or Cornelius and Siim Sander Vene hit their shots from deep in the third quarter and every time Oded Katash’s team made a run with Jarell Martin going from downtown, Carrington was there to match him shot for shot.

In the end, it was Jerusalem’s Noam Dovrat who finished off the game, when he nailed a step-back triple to seal the deal and send the capital city side to the win.

 SPEEDY SMITH is no stranger to Israeli basketball and specifically chose Hapoel Jerusalem in part due to its Serbian coach Aleksandar Dzikic, who was previously an assistant in the NBA. (credit: YEHUDA HALICKMAN) SPEEDY SMITH is no stranger to Israeli basketball and specifically chose Hapoel Jerusalem in part due to its Serbian coach Aleksandar Dzikic, who was previously an assistant in the NBA. (credit: YEHUDA HALICKMAN)

What were the scores?

Carrington led all scorers with 20 points, Smith scored 14 points, dished out 10 assists and grabbed six rebounds while Vene added 11 points as Jerusalem went an impressive 12-of-23 (52%) from beyond the arc.

. “We figured out at the end how to close the game. They made us play as hard as we could and it’s the hardest test for us as they are a EuroLeague team.”

Aleksandar Dzikic

Martin paced Maccabi with 17 points, Baldwin scored 15 points and Jalen Adams chipped in with 11 points in the loss.

“Credit to Maccabi as they found the energy to play a competitive 40 minutes,” an exhausted Dzikic said following the game. “We figured out at the end how to close the game. They made us play as hard as we could and it’s the hardest test for us as they are a EuroLeague team.”

Katash noted how fatigue was a factor for his side.

“The energy was very hard to find and we saw that already a day before the game and we spoke about it as a team,”  explained the disappointed Tel Aviv coach. “We had an anemic first half and we missed some shots as the game began. Every time we came close, they made a run.”

Smith also reflected on the victory.

“We just stuck to our game plan. We had some flat possessions on offense and some bad defensive plays, but for the most part, we followed the coach’s game plan and rebounded well. We’re still building but this is a step in the right direction.”

Meanwhile, Hapoel Tel Aviv drubbed Hapoel Galil Elyon 108-80 as seven Reds scored in double figures and last year’s league MVP Chinanu Onuaku made his Reds debut in a lopsided affair.

Danny Franco’s squad jumped out to an early 35-24 lead after 10 minutes as the big men, Idan Zalmanson and Onuaku scored at will while Xavier Munford distributed the ball with ease as the team recorded 33 assists in the victory.

Zalmanson and Jordan McRae each scored 20 points, Onuaku and Jaylen Hoard added 16 points apiece as Munford scored 10 points and dished out 11 assists. Deishuan Booker led Galil Elyon with 19 points and nine assists, Jalen Hudson scored 17 points and Bryce Washington added 10 points in the loss.

“I looked as to how we would split up the minutes properly in the game,” Franco said after the contest. “We didn’t have J’Covan Brown for the most part, which allowed the team a chance to play without him. It was able to give the rest of the team confidence to know how to handle the situation properly.”

Elsewhere, Ness Ziona downed Bnei Herzliya 91-84 as Shaq Buchanan and Tyler Bey combined for 57 points for the hosts in the win.

Elad Hasin’s team jumped all over the visitors early on, but Chris Babb and Maurice Kemp helped Oren Aharoni’s squad knot the score up at 63 by the end of the third quarter. However, Buchanan, along with Golan Gutt, came up big down the stretch in a game that saw DJ Cooper dish out 19 assists to take the win.

Buchanan led the way with 30 points, Bey added 27 points and Golan Gutt scored nine points in the victory. Babb paced struggling Herzliya with 21 points, Kemp chipped in with 17 points and Sandy Cohen scored 16 points in the loss.

“Credit to the players,” Hasin began. “Herzliya is a good team with a good coach and it’s always tough to play them. We showed a lot of character and focus and we had a lot of good shots which is a good sign going forward.”

“It’s no secret that we are having issues” Aharoni explained. “We have had home losses at the buzzer as well and while we did a decent job in this game, Ness Ziona came out with the win. We had two very serious injuries and it’s hard to handle these types of things.”

Bey also looked back at the contest.“I was just playing my game, we played as a team and we got the job done. Shaq Buchanan came off of the bench and gave us a spark and it’s really amazing to play with DJ Cooper.”

On Monday night, Hapoel Beersheba sunk Hapoel Eilat 79-70 as Joaquin Szuchman scored 13 first-quarter points to set the tone in the road victory for their second win in a row. Also, Ironi Kiryat Ata held on to beat Hapoel Gilboa/Galil 81-76 after jumping out to a huge 27-9 lead to begin the game.