Local Hoops: Hapoel Jerusalem wins dramatic Cup final

Reds come back from 22-point deficit to Maccabi Tel Aviv and retain State Cup.

hapoel 224.88 (photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
hapoel 224.88
(photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
An extraordinary fourth period by Hapoel Jerusalem gave the team from the underdog a stunning 93-89 victory over Maccabi Tel Aviv in the State Cup final on Thursday night at Nokia Arena. Jerusalem trailed by as many as 22 points in the third quarter, but outscored Maccabi 38-16 in the final period to claim the cup for a second straight season. Hapoel, which hadn't beaten Maccabi in a title game since 1997, made up for its clearly inferior roster with enthusiasm and passion and stunned the proud perennial champion. Jamie Arnold, who left Maccabi for Jerusalem in the summer, scored 29 points, with Timmy Bowers adding 19 points. Sharon Sasson and Dror Hajaj added 15 and 11 points respectively. Marcus Fizer and Vonteego Cummings led Maccabi with 16 points each. A Cummings jumper gave Maccabi an early lead (4-0), but Sasson's three-pointer soon after put Jerusalem ahead (5-4). That proved to be Hapoel's only lead of the first half as Tel Aviv made the most of its superior roster to open a double-digit margin by the end of the first quarter. Cummings' basket from beyond the arc gave the team a 12- point gap (22-10) and the first period ended in a 25-14 Maccabi lead. Five straight points by Yotam Halperin increased the margin to a massive 14 points (32-18) and gave the perennial champion a stranglehold on the encounter. Hajaj, who was crucial to Jerusalem's hopes, picked up his third foul midway through the quarter and received his fourth foul immediately afterwards following an argument with the officials. Hajaj's foul trouble forced Hapoel coach Dan Shamir to bench his playmaker, making Jerusalem's task of mounting a successful comeback even more difficult. Hapoel managed to close within eight points towards the end of the first half, but Tel Aviv still took an 11-point margin into the break (50-39). Maccabi was on fire at the start of the second half and five consecutive points by Cummings extended the team's advantage to 59-41. The gap continued to mushroom as the third period progressed and reached 22 points (67-45) following another Cummings three. Jerusalem did all it could to peg back Maccabi, but the margin at the end of the quarter was 18-points big (73-55). Hapoel stormed back into the game at the start of the fourth period, holding Maccabi scoreless for the first four minutes of the period. Jerusalem went on a 14-0 run which brought back it within four points (73-69) and gave the encounter a new lease on life. Fizer's basket from an offensive rebound finally ended Tel Aviv's drought, but Hapoel had no intention of falling behind once again after doing all the hard work and amazingly took the lead. Bowers continued his superb fourth period with a three point move that gave Hapoel a 79-78 advantage and three more points by Hajaj increased the team's gap to three points (85-82). Jerusalem took advantage of Tel Aviv's complete shock, opening a five point lead, but Will Bynum managed to bring his team back within one point with an acrobatic basket (90-89) with 40 seconds to play. That would, however, prove to be as close as Maccabi would come and Jerusalem claimed a sensational victory.