Maccabi Tel Aviv & Hapoel Jerusalem played a game that lived up to the billing of the “Israeli Basketball Classico” as the Yellow & Blue came put on top 85-83 thanks to a fantastic pick and roll pass from Andrew Goudelock to Joe Alexander who dunked home the winning bucket.
A great night of basketball was on display at Yad Eliyahu as Maccabi & Jerusalem played end to end ball with momentum swings aplenty. The hosts took a quick 7:0 lead but Hapoel came back to go up 17-13 thanks to Amare Stoudemire. Yogev Ohayon Sylven Landesberg, Goudelock and DJ Seely helped give Maccabi a one point advantage at the end of the first quarter 25-24.
The second frame saw Jerusalem race out to a 41-31 advantage thanks in part to strong play by Bar Timor, but Maccabi came back with an 8-0 run to finish off the half only down by 4 points, 46-42 as Sonny Weems and Seely contributed to the cause.
Maccabi came out of the break with a 6-0 run but Hapoel answered back taking a 62-52 lead with Timor, Stoudemire and company filling the basket. But Ohayon scored 5 straight points to go along with a Victor Rudd monster dunk to cut the deficit to only 62-59. However, Lior Eliyahu ended the third quarter with a bucket giving Hapoel a 7-point lead 69-62 after 30 minutes.
Maccabi opened up the final frame with a 18-3 run to take what looked like a commanding 80-72 lead but Hapoel stormed back to tie the game up at 83-83 on a Stoudemire dunk off a Dyson assist. But with 3.5 seconds left in the contest, Goudelock found a wide open Alexander off a pick and roll who slammed the ball home for a 85-83 lead which held up as Dyson missed a last gasp 3-pointer.
1) We got a real barn burner of a game as both Maccabi & Jerusalem played stop notch basketball on both ends of the court. Tough defense, terrific offense plus the intensity of a Euroleague game is more than anyone could have asked so early in the season. We also got to see Amare Stoudemire in arguably his best appearance so far in Israel. But what pleased me most was to see Joe Alexander play a pivotal role on the court for 25 minutes plus scoring the winning basket. For a guy that has barely played all season long, who I’ve seen in the gym immediately after games to get a work out in, I couldn’t be happier for the guy. He deserved everything he got yesterday and then some.
2) Just last week Maccabi coach Rami Hadar was rumored to already be on his way out with three huge games waiting for him following a league loss at Bnei Herzliya. Two Euroleague tilts against Fenerbahce at home, Kazan on the road and Hapoel Jerusalem a team that the Yellow & Blue hasn’t beaten since the State Cup Final in Jerusalem back in February 2015. What did he do? Beat the alltime best European coach, won away in Russia and defeated last year’s league runner-ups and arch-nemesis, so much for those rumors. Hadar is proving all of his critics wrong as he continues to build a team, his team, one that looks like to be a formidable force.
3) Hapoel Jerusalem lives and dies by Curtis Jerrells. With 34 minutes and only 8 points on 2/10 from the field isn’t exactly helping his cause. Six assists is nice and encouraging but he’ll have to dish them out consistently in order for him to be considered a “team player”. No one is questioning his desire to win and to succeed, he is a gamer who wants to do his best game in and game out. But if Jerusalem is to have a well balanced attack and make waves both in Europe and domestically he will need to calm down and not think shoot first every time he touches the ball. A basketball season is a marathon and not a sprint so even though the results have been disappointing of late, Pianigiani has plenty to work with and plenty of work to do to keep improving his team.
At the end of the day Maccabi & Jerusalem showed that they are the cream of the crop even though recent results don’t show that. Both teams have so much potential and we’ve seen it on an inconsistent basis thus far, however, both Rami Hadar and Simone Pianigiani’s have the tools in their Arsenal to take their teams to the top. It may take time as it should when you are building new teams from almost scratch but it’s encouraging to see what could be later on this season.
They said it
Here’s a video from the Maccabi lockerroom following the 2-point victory over Hapoel Jerusalem: