Maccabi Tel Aviv gets the better of arch-rival Jerusalem

Wilbekin, Stoudemire double-doubles pace yellow-and-blue • Rishon routs Holon • Eilat sinks Ashdod

JEREMY PARGO (left) made a stellar Hapoel Jerusalem debut  against former team Maccabi Tel Aviv, but Scottie Wilbekin (right) stole the show. June 29, 2020 (photo credit: DOV HALICKMAN PHOTOGRAPHY)
JEREMY PARGO (left) made a stellar Hapoel Jerusalem debut against former team Maccabi Tel Aviv, but Scottie Wilbekin (right) stole the show. June 29, 2020
Maccabi Tel Aviv beat Hapoel Jerusalem 86-80 in the Israeli basketball Classico at Yad Eliyahu on Monday night. The visiting Reds controlled the first half, but the yellow-and-blue used a strong second half to propel the club to the victory.
Scottie Wilbekin (21 points, 10 assists) and Amar’e Stoudemire (17 points, 12 rebounds) led the way for the Ioannis Sfairopoulos’s squad while Deni Avdija and Elijah Bryant each chipped in with 11 points.
Suleiman Braimoh was Jerusalem’s top scorer with 16 points, Jeremy Pargo added 13 points in his Reds debut and James Feldeine contributed 12 points, all of which came in the first half.
Maccabi went on the attack from the get-go and took a 18-12 lead midway through the first quarter thanks to sharp shooting from outside with a pair of triples from Quincy Acy and four overall.
But with the insertion of Pargo, Jerusalem rattled off a 15-3 run to close out the frame and take a 27-21 advantage after 10 minutes.
Feldeine and Pargo continued their inspired play and helped Oded Katash’s squad to a 38-29 lead with five minutes remaining in the first half. Wilbekin tried to keep Tel Aviv squad close but Braimoh, Idan Zalmanson and John Holland kept up the scoring pace for Jerusalem as it went into halftime up 47-38.
Braimoh and Emanuel Terry helped Jerusalem increase its lead, but Wilbekin, Stoudemire and Avdija ignited the yellow-and-blue offense to cut the advantage to 53-49 midway through the third quarter.
The two teams played toe-to-toe basketball for the balance of the frame, with Jerusalem hanging on to a slim three-point advantage (64-61) after 30 minutes of action.
Jake Cohen and Bryant scored for Maccabi while Braimoh did the same for the Reds as time wound down in the fourth quarter. Stoudemire and Wilbekin found the bottom of the basket as did Pargo, but Bryant hit a couple of tough shots – including a big triple – to lead Maccabi to the six-point conquest.
After the contest, Sfairopoulos recognized Stoudemire’s contributions since returning from the coronavirus-induced break.
“Amar’e has a big presence within the team,” said Maccabi’s Greek coach. “He fits our system and he has been much better since the resumption of the league because he now understands our structure and philosophy both offensively and defensively. This was able to happen due to the practices we have conducted and that could not have happened before the break because of the amount of games that we had been playing.”
Meanwhile, Maccabi Rishon Lezion pounded Hapoel Holon 93-74 on Monday and won for the first time since the resumption of league play.
Guy Goodes’s squad got off to a flying start as Oz Blayzer and Noam Dovrat paced the Wine City club to a 31-22 lead after 10 minutes and never looked back as it cruised to the 19-point win.
Blayzer scored 17 points and pulled down eight rebounds, D’Angelo Harrison added 17 points and Dovrat chipped in with 15 points.
Shlomi Harush led Holon with 13 points and Shavon Coleman scored 12 points in the loss.
Elsewhere, Hapoel Eilat kept on winning as it topped Maccabi Ashdod 93-87 at the Red Sea city.
Milton Doyle led the charge for Arik Alfasi’s team with 26 points, including six three-pointers, Devon Scott recorded a double-double with 23 points and 11 rebounds and Ben Carter pulled down 13 boards in the win.
Ashdod, which played inspired ball, had five players in double-digits as Jairus Holder led the way with 20 points, Zac Cuthbertson chipped in with 14 points and Paul Stoll added 12 points and 13 assists.
Also, Maccabi Haifa recorded its first win of the playoffs with a 94-79 home victory over Ness Ziona.
Nadav Zilberstein’s squad jumped out to a 29-18 lead after 10 minutes, but Andrew Andrews and Jerai Grant led the way over the final three quarters to notch the win for Haifa coach Daniel Seoane.
Andrews scored 22 points, Grant added 18 points, while Reggie Upshaw and Willy Workman each clocked in with 11 points and 12 rebounds.
Ness Ziona’s Cameron Oliver had a game-high 26 points and 12 rebounds and Tal Dunne scored 14 points in defeat.
Hapoel Gilboa/Galil picked up an 87-82 home victory over Ironi Nahariya at Gan Ner. Danny Franco’s Nahariya team made a late run, but ran out of time as the Galilee squad held on for the four-point win.
Joe Thomasson once again starred for coach Lior Lubin’s Gilboa side, as he led the way with 19 points, while Micheal Young added 17 points and Akil Mitchell had 12 points and six steals in the win.
Ivan Almeida paced Nahariya with 20 points and Diamon Simpson had 15 points in a losing cause.
Hapoel Tel Aviv squeaked by Hapoel Beersheba 84-81 in the southern capital.
Rami Hadar’s Beersheba used a huge 25-7 second-quarter run to take a 45-32 lead into halftime, but the Ioannis Kastritis’s squad was able to make up the difference in the second half to snatch the win.
Tel Aviv featured 10 players who scored at least two points each, with Tomer Ginat (16 points), Talib Zanna (15 points) and Sek Henry (10 points) leading the way.
Caleb Agada recorded a double-double with 22 points and 12 rebounds, Evan Bruinsma added 18 points and Benny Eisenhardt had 10 points for Beersheba in the loss.