Maccabi Tel Aviv dumps Hapoel Jerusalem in Nokia clinic
Yellow-and-blue cakewalks to 41-point conquest of supposed arch-rival; Hasharon rolls on.
By ALLON SINAI
Maccabi Tel Aviv humiliated Hapoel Jerusalem at Nokia Arena on Sunday night to get back on track after struggling to find top form in the past couple of weeks.Maccabi has lost its last two Euroleague games and only barely got the better of Hapoel Holon in the BSL last Monday.But it was back to its best on Sunday, crushing Jerusalem 107-66 for its 13th straight league victory.“The entire team played well tonight and we broke Jerusalem’s spirit,” said Maccabi coach David Blatt, who has already got one eye on Game 1 of Tel Aviv’s Euroleague quarterfinal series at Caja Laboral Vitoria on March 22.“We suffered a bit of a lull in the past week and we needed this victory to get back to ourselves.”After losing two straight BSL games, Jerusalem bounced back with successive league wins in the last couple of weeks, but coach Oded Katash will now have to lift his team once more after a humbling experience at Nokia.“We lost the game in the last four minutes of the first half,” said Katash, whose team led 20-19 after 10 minutes, but was outscored 31-14 in the second period.Advertisement“We didn’t show any character and didn’t know how to stop the rot. We have a lot to learn from this game.”Chuck Eidson and David Blu led Maccabi with 20 points each, with four more players scoring in double-figures, including Doron Perkins, who recorded a triple double with 10 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds.Yuval Naimi had 15 points for Jerusalem, which was outscored 33-7 in the final 10 minutes.Also Sunday, Bnei Hasharon won for the sixth time in seven games, beating Ironi Ashkelon 89-79.Lee Nailon led six Bnei Hasharon players in double-figures with 21 points, with Rashon Turner contributing 21 points and 13 rebounds for Ashkelon, which lost for the seventh straight game.Barak Netanya won for just the second time in six games on Sunday, defeating Maccabi Rishon Lezion 102-88.Eliran Gueta had 15 points for Netanya, with Dwayne Mitchell scoring 28 points for Rishon.Hapoel Holon hosts Maccabi Haifa on Monday.At Nokia, Jerusalem looked determined to remain in touch with the hosts at the start of the game and a 7-0 run, capped by Sam Clancy free throws, gave the visitors a slender margin after 10 minutes (20-19).An Eidson three-pointer opened a five-point Maccabi gap (27-22), but Hapoel came right back, with a Jawad Williams jumper cutting the lead to a single point (27-26).However, all of Jerusalem’s hard work was undone in the final three minutes of the half.The yellow-and-blue forced turnovers on defense and scored with fast-breaks at the other end, netting 17 of the final 21 points of the second period to open a comfortable double-digit lead.Two straight three-point plays by Eidson and Perkins completed a 14-2 surge and Guy Pnini’s easy lay-in to end the first half gave the hosts a 50-34 cushion, which Jerusalem was always going to struggle to erase.Both teams seemed content with the margin in the third frame, but Maccabi wanted to embarrass Jerusalem in the final 10 minutes and it did so by opening the fourth period with a 23-5 run which sent Hapoel fans on their way home long before the final whistle.
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