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Hapoel Jerusalem defeats Maccabi Rishon Le’Zion 82-67 to win the Israel State Cup

Hapoel Jerusalem defeated Maccabi Rishon Le’Zion 82-67 to win the 2019 Israel State Cup. After a tight first half, the capital city side broke open the game with a 29-8 third quarter as the fans celebrated the title deep into the night. For Oded Katash this was his first as a head coach and Jerusalem’s first since 2008. The trophy was presented by the President of Israel Reuven Rivlin as the team hoisted it up in the air to the delight of the Reds faithful.

The Jerusalem bench dominated the scoresheet as J’Covan Brown and James Feldeine scored 19 and 15 points respectively while Tashawn Thomas added 14 points in the victory. Alex Hamilton, Cameron Long and DeShawn Stephens led Rishon in the loss.

There were many storylines entering the winner take all matchup beginning with the battle of the coaches. Jerusalem’s Oded Katash looked to take his first title with Jerusalem as well as his first State Cup as a head coach after winning one as a player with Maccabi Tel Aviv. Katash also has one league championship under his belt when he captured the title with Hapoel Gilboa/Galil in 2010 by defeating Maccabi Tel Aviv in Yad Eliyahu. On the other side of the court, Maccabi Rishon Le’Zion’s Coach Guy Goodes, having won the State Cup both as a player and as a coach with Maccabi Tel Aviv, looked to add another piece of hardware to his trophy case after joining the team during the first half of the season.

Adding to the intrigue was a flashback to the 2016 league final where Rishon shocked Jerusalem and its fans to take the title on their home court in the capital, a loss that left veteran and now Reds captain Lior Eliyahu in tears. Add to that two wins this season by Rishon over Jerusalem, once in the preseason Winner Cup tournament and in the regular season both at Beit Maccabi in Rishon Le’Zion and the stage was set for an electric showdown.

Hapoel Jerusalem had advanced the final after defeating defending Cup holders Hapoel Holon 91-77 thanks to superb performances by James Feldeine and J’Covan Brown while Maccabi Rishon Le’Zion punched their ticket with a 86-70 victory over Hapoel Tel Aviv as Alex Hamilton and Diamon Simpson led the way.

With over 8,000 Jerusalem fans decked out in red and another couple of thousand Rishon supporters in orange, the two sides began the game trading baskets with Goodes’s squad ahead 8-7 midway through the first quarter thanks to a pair of triples by Cameron Long and DeShawn Stephens. The Reds who were wearing black just as they did in their semifinal victory, rattled off a 7-0 run punctuated by a 3-pointer by J’Covan Brown who ended the frame with 8 points as Jerusalem held a 23-18 advantage after ten minutes.

The second quarter began just as the first as James Feldeine and Alex Hamilton traded buckets from beyond the arc. However, Josh Owens picked up has third foul and Jerusalem continued to have trouble with Rishon’s size, but led 33-27 with 3:35 left in the half. Baskets by Tashawn Thomas and DeSean Butler gave Jerusalem a bit more breathing room but Stephens scored two on a put back at the buzzer as Rishon went into halftime down by only a couple of points, 42-40.

Jerusalem broke away with a 7-0 run to start the third quarter as Tamir Blatt, Thomas and Butler all hit buckets forcing Goodes to quickly call a time out but the Reds continued to pour on the offense to take a 57-43 lead with 4:20 left in the frame. Things went from bad to worse for Rishon as Feldeine sent the Jerusalem crowd into a frenzy and into the final quarter with a 23 point lead, 71-48.

Josh Owens joined the scoring party with a 4th quarter dunk as the celebration began early for Hapoel Jerusalem as they captured their 5th State Cup and their first in 11 years.