Hapoel upends Maccabi in Tel Aviv derby

Reds go coast-to-coast at Hadar Yosef for impressive 12-point conquest of yellow-and-blue.

Josh Owens 370  (photo credit: Adi Avishai)
Josh Owens 370
(photo credit: Adi Avishai)
Hapoel Tel Aviv showed the Israeli basketball world that it is a force to be reckoned with by dominating cross-town rival Maccabi Tel Aviv 78-66 in an exciting derby on Monday night at Hadar Yosef.
Raviv Limonad capped off another fantastic performance by beginning and ending the game strong for Hapoel, scoring 16 points and showing tremendous leadership throughout the game.
Coach Erez Edelstein quelled every Maccabi run by managing a smart match and proving that he can match up with the best the league has to offer as his team led from the very first basket through the entire contest.
Yellow-and-blue coach David Blatt kept Alex Tyus, Jake Cohen and Tyrese Rice in street clothes as Yuval Naimi dressed for the second straight game and Sofokolis Schortsanitis, Joe Ingles and Devin Smith were all in the lineup after sitting out Saturday night’s victory over Ashdod.
Meanwhile, Hapoel came into the match with the league’s leading scorer, Raviv Limonad, who is averaging 19.6 points a game. However, a two-game losing streak placed a lot of pressure on the home side to find a way to pull out a win.
As soon as the tip-off took place, Hapoel fans threw massive amounts of confetti onto the floor, causing a long delay that left players and coaches from both teams fuming and adding more full to the fire of the already heated rivalry.
It didn’t take long for Limonad to put his stamp on the game, scoring Hapoel’s first three buckets and taking advantage of Maccabi’s tired legs, with the team playing its third game in five nights.
The inspired play continued for the Reds, which outscored Maccabi 7-2 on fast break points and led 19-17 after 10 minutes of play.
The second quarter began with redand- white beach balls being tossed on the court and a warning issued to the 1,500 Hapoel fans that another incident would cause a forfeit.
Sofo scored 10 points trying to keep Maccabi close throughout the first half by drawing fouls and knocking down free throws.
But turnovers, combined with Hapoel’s strong transition play by Josh Owens (17 points), Justin Harper and Vincent Council, continued to plague the visitors as the Reds held a 42-26 advantage at halftime.
Maccabi started to chip away at the 16- point deficit in the third quarter with a 15-2 run spurred by clutch shooting by David Blu (13 points) and smart guard play from Yuval Naimi, and it eventually cut the lead to single digits.
But an Owens dunk, solid points by Jonathan Skjoldebrand and a terrific quarter by Carlon Brown (20 points) helped Hapoel to a 15-5 run and kept the lead at 62-47 heading into the final frame.
Out-of-sync Maccabi continued its poor play for the first half of the last quarter by committing foolish fouls and playing poor defense.
But Devin Smith and Blu tried in vain to bring the visitors back into the game yet again before intelligently called timeouts by Edelstein toward the end of the match helped Hapoel paint the city of Tel Aviv red.