Right at tip-off, Hapoel Tel Aviv fans lit flares which caused the players to head to their respective lockerrooms as the contest was delayed from its original 9:15pm start. However, when the game did finally begin it was all Red as Hapoel crushed Maccabi who never quite made it back on the court 112-74 to force a decisive game three on Tuesday back at Yad Eliyahu.
Following a 90-79 loss in game one, Danny Franco’s squad came out firing on all cylinders as Xavier Munford couldn’t miss from deep with the guard hitting six of Hapoel’s 15 3-pointers while Jordan McRae, J’Covan Brown and Chinanu Onuaku did as they pleased to take the blowout win.
Munford led the way with 26 points (6/8 from 3), McRae added 21 points and Idan Zalmanson chipped in with 14 points in the win. Wade Baldwin scored 18 points, Bonzie Colson added 17 points and Rafi Menco scored 14 points in the loss.
“I’m happy that all of things that occurred at the start of the game didn’t get us out of focus,” Franco began. “I told the guys that it was a really rough game after the loss in game one and I tried to make sure we all disconnected from everything else and just focused on our jobs. Now we have to enjoy what we did today which isn’t something that happens often or if ever again. We will get to Yad Eliuyahu and I’m sure that what went on here today will influence game three.”
“This was one of those games that we got hit hard at every angle possible,” Katash said. Defensively, offensively nothing worked. Hapoel is a well rounded offensive team that had a good shooting game. We didn’t prepare well for this game. Now we have to pick ourselves up quickly and come into game three with the feelings that we have from this game which was brutal defeat.”
Xavier Munford spoke about his the team turned it around after a tough game one loss, “We watched film, broke it down and had a good practice. You have to be motivated and you have to be ready to play. The performance we had last game wasn’t going to win a game. I felt good, we had ball movement. It was amazing and that helped us win.”
Rafi Menco also commented on the game that was, “It was a very tough loss and every one of us didn’t want to lose and lose this way, no one here deserved this and we have a championship game in 48 hours.”
Chinanu Onuaku opened the scoring for Hapoel Tel Aviv, Wade Baldwin and Bonzie Colson responded with 3-pointers for Maccabi Tel Aviv but a pair of baskets by Jordan McRae along with two from deep gave the reds a 15-8 lead midway through the first quarter. Bar Timor knocked down a 3-pointer, Baldwin matched him at the other end, McRae put down a massive dunk, Xavier Munford and Jarell Martin traded triples, Rafi Menco and Munford did the same as the hosts grabbed a 36-17 lead after ten minutes of play.
Munford began the second quarter with points, Colson answered, Idan Zalmanson scored for Danny Franco’s team, McRae grabbed his own rebound and scored but Colson and Roman Sorkin came back with points for Oded Katash’s squad but Hapoel stayed in front 44-23 with 6:02 left in the first half. J’Covan Brown dialled up a pair from long distance, Menco hit a pair from deep, Munford matched him, Colson dropped a turnaround jumper, Baldwin went from downtown and Menco put in a layup to end the quarter with Hapoel still the drivers seat 59-42.
Colson scored to get the third quarter underway, Onuaku found points in the paint, Colson scored again, Tomer Ginat found points, Alex Poythress dunked but a McRae layup kept Hapoel ahead 68-52 midway through the period. Munford went for a trio from deep, Zalmanson added points, Brown went from deep, Martin did the same for Maccabi, while Colson scored as well but Hapoel remained in full control with a 86-65 lead after thirty minutes of action.
Timor opened the fourth quarter with a triple, Jaylen Hoard added points, Zalmanson scored as the balance of the game featured garbage time galore to send the series to a decisive game three.