Maccabi defeated Hapoel 90-82 in the Tel Aviv Derby for the Yellow & Blue’s first league win over their rivals after falling to them twice so far this season. Alex Tyus led the way for Neven Spahija’s squad scoring 17 points on 7/8 shooting while pulling down 8 rebounds as Pierre Jackson dropped 14 points and dished out 6 assists in the win. Raviv Limonad scored 17 points for the visitor’s while Adrian Banks added 14 points and Matt Howard recorded a double double with 11 points and 15 rebounds in the loss.
DeAndre Kane’s fine play over the first half with 9 points together with Jonah Bolden’s inspired play with 6 points, 5 rebounds and 3 steals gave Maccabi a 3-point, 45-42 lead after 20 minutes as Rafi Menco and Limonad each scored 9 points for Hapoel to keep the game within reach.
However, Maccabi buckled down on defense over the course of the second half and received strong performances from John DiBartolomeo, Tyus and Jackson over the final two quarters were able to cancel out Banks and Howard’s efforts to earn the W.
1) Welcome Back Jonah Bolden. The Philadelphia draft pick hadn’t played since April 14 and finally made his long anticipated return to the Maccabi lineup helping the Yellow & Blue to the win. When Bolden is on his game he’s one of the best in the business in Israel and he proved against Hapoel Tel Aviv as to what kind of asset he is to the team. Was he missed over the past few weeks? I believe so as his ability to change the game is really something special and his teammates agree that it’s good he’s back on the court, “Bolden is an NBA player,” Pierre Jackson commented. “I’m glad he got a chance to have a good game.” John DiBartolomeo also chimed in, “Jonah gave us a lot. When he plays hard and alert he has such size and length that gives us a lot on both sides of the court particularly on defense. He gets into a lot of people’s ways and gets hands on a lot of balls so he played really well for us.” Coach Spahija was straight and to the point about the big man’s return to the lineup, “We prepared Bolden well for this game. I think he helped today.” The bottom line is, Maccabi needs Bolden the rest of the way as he’s a game changer like no other player…
2) …Other than Pierre Jackson that is. #55 has been a critical piece to the puzzle over the past few games that he’s played and the point guard position has been one where Maccabi has lacked all season long. I always think back to Jackson’s first Euroleague game this season against Bamberg when he just took control of the 4th quarter dropping four of his five 3-pointers in the final frame to turn around a 59-55 deficit into a 88-71 win. However, he also knows that he’s got to be a bit more careful to maximize his output for the team, “I got to take care of the ball more. I probably could have had ten assists if I didn’t turn the ball over that much (4).” Jackson also reflected back on the win, “They gave us a good fight the last two games, it felt good to get this win at home as we’ve been struggling here.”
3) Now that Jackson is showing what he can do on the court, Maccabi will welcome another point guard most probably next game in one Jeremy Pargo. It will certainly be interesting to see how the point guard will adjust with just a number of games remaining in the season. But with his history with the Yellow & Blue it shouldn’t be much of a problem. Alex Tyus who had a phenomenal game is definitely excited have him back on his side, “I think it’s great. I played with him in 2014/15 and he’s a playmaker and he can score. To have an extra experienced guy that knows what Maccabi is like and played in final fours and championship teams I think is huge for us.” Another game changer is about to suit up, hopefully it will be against Hapoel Eilat on Monday night.
The fans. The fans wanted this win in the worst way and didn’t want to see the Yellow & Blue fall again to their hated rivals Hapoel and get swept in the league season series. The players were well aware of the importance of the win and it was fun to see Michael Roll and DiBartolomeo go to the stands with the fans, “It was a big win as we haven’t been playing the best basketball lately so it was good to get a home win especially in the derby. The fans care a lot about us especially when it comes to the Derby. We feel their support and their love and in a week like this they were really present. It was really good for us and I’m glad we were able to get them a win and that they were able to celebrate.” Jackson also piped in short, quick and to the point, “We got the win, the fans really wanted this one. This was a big win for the fans.”