Maccabi Tel Aviv exacted a measure of revenge on Hapoel Jerusalem on Sunday night in Israel Winner League action as it downed the capital city side 88-74 in the Israeli league Classico.
The results snapped Jerusalem’s 14-game winning streak across all competition and handed the Reds their first loss since January 25.
The yellow-and-blue controlled the pace of play throughout the game as Lorenzo Brown, Iftach Ziv and Jake Cohen led the way over Hapoel after having fallen to the Reds in the State Cup final back in February.
Oded Katash’s crew came into the game with guns blazing as the bench boss dressed the majority of his Euroleague roster that had won six games in a row while on the other side, Aleksandar Dzikic went with a makeshift lineup due to a Basketball Champions League quarterfinal matchup against AEK Athens on Tuesday which put Jerusalem at a disadvantage.
Lorenzo Brown, Josh Nebo and Cohen got to work early on while Zach Hankins, Khadeen Carrington and Brandon Brown tried to keep the hosts close, but fell behind 53-41 at halftime.
Rafi Menco and Ziv began to score in the third quarter as Brandon Brown countered from deep but the final frame was all yellow-and-blue as Guy Pnini, Josh Nebo and John DiBartolomeo stopped Jerusalem’s mini-run to put away the win.
Maccabi was led by Lorenzo Brown with 18 points as Ziv and Cohen each scored 12 points in the win. Brandon Brown paced Jerusalem with 15 points while Hankins chipped in with 12 points in the loss.
“We went according to our plan and we knew what to expect from Jerusalem,” Maccabi’s assistant coach Josep Maria Berrocal said. “We played better in the second half and shared the ball better than the first. The domestic players helped a lot including Guy Pnini who was very important for us.”
Cohen looked back at the keys to the win.
“Halftime was important for us to refocus. We had made uncharacteristic mistakes and miscommunicated in the first half but we came out in the third quarter and did a very nice job. There was no drop off with the second unit and that is what helped us win the game.”
“Halftime was important for us to refocus. We had made uncharacteristic mistakes and miscommunicated in the first half but we came out in the third quarter and did a very nice job. There was no drop off with the second unit and that is what helped us win the game.”Jake Cohen
“Congrats to Maccabi they played well and controlled the game,” Jerusalem coach Dzikic began. “At some moments they looked very good and some we looked the way we should. It wasn’t our best performance and if you watched the schedule the last two weeks both teams were tired. We have to put this game behind us and look ahead to Tuesday.”
The upcoming game against AEK Athens
The bench boss also talked about the upcoming BCL quarterfinal series against AEK Athens, “We can’t pretend that it’s not important because everything we worked for in the competition was to get to the final four. We understand the opportunity and we want to use it. We have worked very hard for seven months to put us into this situation and we want to do out best in the BCL playoff games.”
The best-of-3 series against AEK will begin Tuesday in Jerusalem while Game 2 will be played in Athens next Wednesday. Should the series go to a decisive Game 3, that contest will be played the following week.
If Hapoel can make it past its Greek foe, there has been talk that the competition’s Final Four will descend on Jerusalem in May after a number of years of waiting for the opportunity to play in the latter stages of the continental championship.
Against Maccabi, Carrington opened the game with a three-point play for Hapoel Jerusalem while Lorenzo Brown drained a three-pointer for Maccabi Tel Aviv. Siim Sander-Vene and went from deep for Jerusalem, but baskets by Josh Nebo and Wade Baldwin gave the yellow-and-blue a slim 12-7 lead midway through the first quarter.
Brandon Brown and Lorenzo Brown traded triples, Hankins converted a three-point play and an alley-oop as Cohen and Lorenzo Brown responded for Oded Katash’s team to take a 28-23 lead after 10 minutes.
Vene and Itay Segev put in points, Rafi Menco went from deep, Nebo added a three-point play as Carrington answered with a three-pointer, but Maccabi stayed in front 37-31 with 5:34 left in the second quarter.
Lorenzo Brown, Cohen and Colson found points, TJ Cline came back with points, but Ziv drained a triple at the end of the half to take a 53-41 advantage.
Noam Yaacov and Or Cornelius went from downtown to begin the third quarter, Cohen countered from deep, Mareks Mejeris also dialed up long distance as the yellow-and-blue stayed in control 61-50 midway through the period. Segev cleaned up a miss and Brandon Brown for a pair went from deep, but Menco hit a corner three-ball to keep Maccabi ahead 69-59 after 30 minutes of action.
Cornelius started the fourth quarter with points, Ziv came back with a triple, Hankins dunked, Guy Pnini knocked down a three and Nebo jammed as Maccabi quickly went up 80-63 with 5:50 remaining in regulation time.
Gilad Levi put down a number of dunks, John DiBartolomeo drilled home a three-pointer at the end of the shot clock as the yellow-and-blue finished off Jerusalem to take the victory.
Also, Hapoel Tel Aviv got by Hapoel Eilat 88-80 in a thrilling game down by the Red Sea that saw the Reds mount a fourth-quarter comeback to notch the win.
The hosts started out strong as Antonio’s Cleveland, Eric Griffin and Mangok Mathiang led the way to give Maurizio Buscaglia’s team a 66-63 lead after three quarters.
However, Xavier Munford, J’Covan Brown, Chinanu Onuaku along with Tomer Ginat and Bar Timor outscored Eilat 24-15 in the final frame to take the tough victory.
Munford led the way with 19 points, Brown added 18 points and nine assists while Onuaku chipped in with 13 points in the win. Griffin led all scorers with 22 points, Cleveland scored 18 points while Mathiang checked in with 10 points and 18 boards for Eilat in the loss.
“We knew how the game was going to play out and if we would control the offensive flow the result would go in our favor,” Hapoel Tel Aviv coach Danny Franco began. “We ended up winning by eight points in a game in which our opponents shot 18 more times to the basket. We have to move the focus to our game with Hapoel Galil Elyon and then Venezia in the EuroCup round-of-16.”
J’Covan Brown also spoke about the victory.
“I’m content that we can happily return home with a victory. Eilat is a good team that had been on a winning streak but we knew how to come back and worked as a team in the fourth quarter to close out the game.”