1) Maccabi Tel Aviv vs Hapoel Tel Aviv. Deni Avdija vs Yam Madar. Derby. Need I say more. Yes, the final game one of the four quarterfinal series finally took place and it was an absolute doozy of a clash. The Yellow & Blue came in as clear favorites but they didn’t show it for the majority of the game as the Reds dominated play thanks to a terrific effort from Yam Madar. The 2020 NBA Draft prospect who saw his name jump into the second round on The Athletic’s Mock Draft dominated the contest between the pair for the majority of the game with 12 points and 4 assists. However, Deni Avdija who sat on 5 points for most of the night scored Maccabi’s final 5 points including the winning triple as he helped the club to the victory. Although Avdija had 4 turnovers he pulled down 8 rebounds and added 3 assists and 3 blocks in what was not one of his best performances. But he’s a winner, bottom line and knew when he needed to make his shots count. For the Reds, Madar looked well beyond his years, confident and solid in what was a very good showing for his team.
2) Hapoel was the better team from the get go and its as easy to see how Maccabi just didn’t come out to play from the get go. Five minutes into the game and you could see that Ioannis Sfairopoulos’s team was nowheres to be found as they continued to sleep walk through the first three quarters. The Reds had energy and lots of it as Maccabi swingman Yovel Zoosman explained, “The 50/50 balls were 8-1 for them and they showed much more energy. They are a young team and they fought for the ball. We didn’t come into the game mentally prepared enough and I am sure that will not be the case next game. We weren’t focussed enough and they were able to control the game but in the last quarter when we were able to score it was a bit of a different story.” The coach had this to say about Zoosman, “I count on him from the first moment I came to Maccabi and he proved how important he is by scoring and playing defense.” But just like Zoosman, Sfairopoulos was also looking ahead to the next game as he will ensure that the effort will be much different from his team when the clash tis off, “This was a wakeup call. We won the game but we didn’t play good and we know this. We have to play much better in the next game. If we don’t learn from our mistakes then what can I say. But I think we will learn from this.”
3) Hapoel Tel Aviv may have lost but they will look at this game a moral victory as both coach Ioannis Kastritis and Joaquin Szuchman expressed following the final buzzer. The question is are there such a things as moral victories. Usually not, but in the case of Hapoel Tel Aviv you do have to give them a boat load of credit. They came in ready to look Maccabi in the white of their eyes and not give an inch. That’s not easy for a young team and it’s not easy for a team with only three foreign players, “We proved that we can be really competitive and it was like a win for us,” said Kastritis. “We are very proud as to how we fought today and this was one more lesson for the team and individually. But it’s 1-0 Maccabi and we have to comeback at a high level.” Szuchman spoke about the effort and what the team plans are next game, “We have to take the fact that we came here and stood toe to toe against Maccabi Tel Aviv and we will take that from the game into the next. We played against a good team and we had to be fully focussed for the entire 40 minutes. But we have a home game on Tuesday and then we can come back here and win the series.” You got to love that attitude. That’s what you want to have on your team.
On the stat sheet one can see how Hapoel Tel Aviv left this game on the line and beyond the arc, literally. The Reds were a paltry 10/18 from the charity stripe and 2/21 from downtown which is not exactly a way that you are going to win a close game. Add to that a 10 point final frame and giving up an 18-1 run over the last ten minutes and there you have it. Coach Kastritis also pointed out that the game went Maccabi’s way due to the some small details, one defensive rebound here and one there and that’s that. The coach didn’t want to criticize the referees who swallowed their whistles during the last few seconds scrum that ensued by the Hapoel basket and that’s fine. They weren’t the reason why the Reds lost, it was a bad night at the line and from long distance that did them in.