Maccabi Tel Aviv got all it could handle from Hapoel Tel Aviv as the yellow-and-blue just slipped by the Reds 80-77 on Sunday night to earn a derby triumph in Israel Winner League action.
Danny Franco’s Hapoel came out raring to go and took the game to an often-confused Maccabi. Yam Madar helped his team dominate the play for the first 24 minutes of action, with Hapoel leading 53-37 midway through the third quarter before Maccabi stormed back.
However, Ioannis Sfairopoulos’s squad clamped down on defense and rode Chris Jones’s hot hand to just nip its city rivals.
Jones led the way with 26 points, five assists and drew 10 fouls, Scottie Wilbekin scored 10 points and Othello Hunter added nine points and eight rebounds for Maccabi in the win. Madar scored 24 points to pace Hapoel, Tyrique Jones added 16 points and Bar Timor chipped in with 11 points in the loss.
“We aren’t happy how we played, but the most important thing with a derby is to win,” said a relieved Sfairopoulos. “We weren’t fresh in our minds, and also defensively. That was the main reason why we didn’t play well in the first half. In the second half we slowly came back and played better defense. Both teams could have won at the end, but we played smart not to allow them to shoot the three and we were perfect from the line.”
Chris Jones, the game’s MVP, was all smiles following the victory.
“It felt great but most important is that we got the win. In crunch time we got some big stops, we played like a team and I’m happy that we got the win.”
Madar opened the game with a three-pointer and Maccabi Tel Aviv’s Ante Zizic and Omri Casspi scored a quick pair of baskets in the paint to counter. Then Timor, Reggie Upshaw and Tyrique Jones scored to give the Reds a 11-10 lead midway through the first quarter.
Wilbekin and Chris Jones put in points inside, Hapoel’s Jones replied with a shot off the glass, Jon Diebler drilled a triple. Madar then took John DiBartolomeo to the cleaners in the key for a pair of buckets to give Franco’s squad a 20-14 advantage after 10 minutes of play.
Diebler got the second quarter under way with a dagger three, Madar stripped Oz Blayzer of the ball and Jonathan Mor finished the play off with a dunk.
Timor hit another long-distance shot to give Hapoel a 28-16 with 5:47 left in the half.
Casspi, with a dunk, tried to put some life into Maccabi, Zizic scored in the paint, Wilbekin put in a deuce and a pair of triples while TJ Cline added a three-point play to pull Maccabi to within two points, but Timor and Mor made sure to send Hapoel into the break up 42-35.
Timor and Upshaw began the third quarter with points, Elijah Bryant, Blayzer from downtown and Jones with a three-point play answered for Sfairopoulos’s side as the score still favored the Reds.
Jones added points with a runner off the baseline, Blayzer did the same, Hunter put down a dunk and DiBartolomeo hit a three to bring Maccabi to within two points (59-57) after 30 minutes.
DiBartolomeo fed Hunter for an alley-oop to get the fourth quarter going and Jones scored a jumper for the yellow-and-blue, but Madar hit a triple to keep the Reds in front 64-61 with 6:28 left in regulation.
Hapoel’s Tyrique Jones put down a pair of dunks and Madar scored on a floater, but baskets by Hunter and Bryant pulled Maccabi to within a point (72-71) with two minutes remaining in the final frame.
Chris Jones used the glass to score while Madar did the same at the other end of the court, but Jones hit his patented jumper and hit free-throws to ice the game and give the hosts the win.
Elsewhere, Hapoel Jerusalem walloped Maccabi Rishon Lezion 97-84 as the Reds featured six players in double-digit scoring while shooting close to 50% from beyond the arc to take the 13-point victory.
Dainius Adomaitis’s squad scored early and often as Tamir Blatt, Stanton Kidd and J’Covan Brown helped the hosts to a 27-11 lead after 10 minutes and they never looked back.
Suleiman Braimoh led the way with 19 points, Kidd added 16 points, TaShawn Thomas chipped in with 15 points while Brown scored 12 points and added nine assists while Blatt scored 12 points and dished out six assists in the win.
Noam Dovrat and Darryl Monroe each scored 17 points for Rishon and Jamil Wilson added 16 points against his former team in the loss.
“The fans gave us this energy and the guys were excited to play for the fans,” said Adomaitis. “The defensive determination was key and offensively we had a rhythm. I think this is how we need to play. If you play from the defensive side, you control the game.”
Kidd, who just came on board a couple of weeks ago, credited his teammates for his performance.
“They made it pretty easy for me as they told me to be myself and take my time to learn the plays and gel with the team.”
Meanwhile, Hapoel Holon nipped Hapoel Gilboa/Galil 82-80 up in the Galilee. The neck-and-neck battle saw a number of lead changes and close play throughout the 40 minutes, with Stefanos Dedas’s Holon coming away with the hard-earned victory.
Tyrus McGee led the way with 19 points, CJ Harris added 15 points and Maxim De Zeeuw chipped in with 14 points in the win.
Joe Thomasson scored 17 points for Gilboa, Kerry Blackshear added 16 points and 10 rebounds while Jehyve Floyd scored 12 points and grabbed 11 rebounds in the defeat.
Also, Hapoel Beersheba downed Maccabi Haifa 94-86 in the southern capital as Rami Hadar’s Reds moved to 8-7 on the season.
The hosts jumped out to a 60-38 lead at halftime to cruise to the victory as Eric Griffin paced the club with 27 points, Spencer Weisz added 17 points and Amit Suss checked in with 16 points.
The Greens, who just replaced head coach Daniel Seoane with Amit Ben David, saw Roman Sorkin score 25 points and grab 11 rebounds in the defeat, which dropped their record to a league-worst 2-13.