Hapoel Jerusalem, Maccabi Tel Aviv set for classic showdown

Straightforward wins for Hapoel and Maccabi ensure favorites will meet for the first time in new arena.

Maccabi Tel Aviv’s Sylven Landesberg in action. (photo credit: ODED KARNI/BSL)
Maccabi Tel Aviv’s Sylven Landesberg in action.
(photo credit: ODED KARNI/BSL)
Hapoel Jerusalem and Maccabi Tel Aviv will renew their rivalry in the final of the pre-season Winner Cup at the Jerusalem Arena on Thursday night after both comfortably secured their progress on Tuesday.
Following tight starts to their games, both Jerusalem and Tel Aviv pulled ahead in the third quarter and ultimately cruised to the finish line, allowing their coaches to rest their starters ahead of Thursday’s showdown.
Jerusalem beat Hapoel Tel Aviv 89-70 in the second semifinal in Jerusalem on Tuesday after Maccabi Tel Aviv overcame Ironi Ness Ziona 106-90 behind 36 points from Sylven Landesberg.
After spending much of the past two seasons on the Maccabi bench, Landesberg is set to receive a larger role in the coming campaign and he looked ready for it on Tuesday. The 24-year-old hit 7-of-7 shots from two-point range, 6-of- 8 three-point attempts and 4-of-5 shots from the free-throw line.
“My teammates got me good looking shots and I just kept it going,” said Landesberg.
Maccabi coach Guy Goodes expects big things from Landesberg this season.
“Sylven has been with us for two years and he has worked hard and now he understands what Maccabi is about,” said Goodes.
“I think he came very ready this year and he has got the opportunity to prove himself. He is in good shape and it is important he builds on this.”
Jerusalem took an eight-point lead (42- 34) over Hapoel into the second half and a 12-3 run to end the third period ensured it held a 14-point (63-49) cushion entering the final 10 minutes. After being held scoreless in the first half, last season’s BSL MVP and new recruit Donta Smith was unstoppable after the break and his three-pointer took the gap to 20 points (75-55) midway through the fourth frame to book Jerusalem’s place in the final.
Smith ended the game with 16 points, nine rebounds ans seven assists, with Bracey Wright leading the team with 17 points.
New signings Tony Gaffney, Joseph Jones and Bar Timor scored 12 points each for Jerusalem, which is hoping to claim the Winner Cup for the first time since 2009 when Goodes led it to the title.
Maccabi, which has won the past four editions of the competition, got off to a slow start in the first semi of the night, allowing Ness Ziona to open a nine-point gap (17-8). However, the yellow-and-blue would score the next seven points and a tight first half would ensue.
Ness Ziona still held a four-point margin at the end of the first period (24-20), but it was Tel Aviv which took a four-point advantage (51-47) into the break.
There was still very little to separate the teams at the start of the second half, but a 19-3 run midway through the third quarter was all Maccabi required to clinch the win.
After providing an assist for an alley-oop completed by Alex Tyus, Jeremy Pargo contributed a three-point play before Landesberg capped the surge to open a 75-59 lead.
Ness Ziona closed to within 10 points (77-67) with 10 minutes to play, but Landesberg and Pargo made sure Maccabi was never in any danger of losing its cushion and strolled to the final buzzer.
Pargo supported Landesberg with 20 points and seven assists, with Guy Pnini adding 13 points and Alex Tyus finishing with 12 points for Maccabi, which was once more playing without the injured Devin Smith and Brian Randle.
Preston Knowles had 29 points for Ness Ziona, with Lamayn Wilson scoring 17 points and Tal Dan adding 15 points and 10 rebounds.
“We did some nice things in the first half, but our roster is still a little short and we ultimately tired,” said Ness Ziona coach Nadav Zilberstein.