Maccabi Tel Aviv cruises over Hapoel Jerusalem

Maccabi is taking domestic challenges seriously despite focusing on Euroleague finals.

maccabi tel aviv 88.298 (photo credit: )
maccabi tel aviv 88.298
(photo credit: )
Maccabi Tel Aviv all but wrapped up first place through the end of the BSL season with a 90-76 win over second-place Hapoel Jerusalem in the showcase of Matchday 23 on Sunday night at Nokia Arena. The win - Maccabi's fourth this season over its capital city rivals and second in four days - sees Tel Aviv improve to 18-3, while Jerusalem falls to 16-5. While the situation at the top of the standings seems set, Maccabi Givat Shmuel continues to make a push at the bottom. Givat Shmuel trailed 54-30 at halftime, but stormed back to top Maccabi Rishon 116-111 in double overtime. Also Sunday, Ramat Hasharon blew a 16-point halftime lead before losing to Ironi Nahariya 98-93; Ironi Ramat Gan held on for an 83-79 win over Hapoel Galil Elyon-Golan; and Elitzur Ashkelon edged Hapoel Tel Aviv 70-68. In Tel Aviv, Hapoel Jerusalem, playing without injured point guard Horace Jenkins, led early but couldn't hold on. Jerusalem scored 24 points in each of the first two quarters, but just 28 in the entire second half. Maccabi didn't take Jerusalem lightly, despite the fact that the team's main focus is gearing up for the Euroleague Final Four, which begins on Friday in Prague when the two-time defending champs face Spain's Tau Vitoria. Only Nikola Vujcic, who hurt his leg in the early going, and Maceo Baston, again plagued with foul trouble, didn't play major minutes. Will Solomon led Maccabi with 27 points, while Anthony Parker shined with 16 points, seven rebounds and six assists. Captain Derrick Sharp also had 16. Jerusalem's Tamar Slay scored 24 on perfect shooting in the first half alone - his highest-scoring game since college - but missed his first shot in the second and cooled off quickly, finishing with 27. The team's man in the middle, Mario Austin, missed all nine field goal attempts and finished with eight points - all from the free-throw line. Meir Tapiro added 14 and Roger Mason Jr. 12 in defeat. A Tapiro three gave Hapoel a 24-16 lead after 10 minutes, Slay helped the lead grow to double figures before Maccabi closed the gap to 48-46 at halftime. Maccabi could have led by one at the break, but Parker's three was ruled to be after the halftime buzzer. Parker and co. regained the lead early in the third quarter, as Slay cooled off and Hapoel managed just 10 points in the entire period. Jerusalem seemed to have lost all confidence by the fourth quarter and Maccabi poured it on. The yellow-andblue lead reached 19 and Maccabi missed several opportunities to break the 20-point barrier before coach Pini Gershon brought in the reserves for the closing minutes.