Hapoel Tel Aviv evens series with 85-67 win over Maccabi Tel Aviv

Jun 15, 2024 | Holyland Hoops

Hapoel Tel Aviv downed Maccabi Tel Aviv 85-67 to even up the Israel Basketball Championship Series at 1-1 and force a decisive game there on Monday night back at Yad Eliyahu. With a chance to close out the series, the yellow-and-blue looked to do just that but a red hot Xavier Munford was going to have none of that as the guard’s sharpshooting to open and close the game sent the home fans into delirium at the Drive In Arena in north Tel Aviv.

Xavier Munford – Photo Credit: Yehuda Halickman

Munford scored at will from the outside while Tomer Ginat added points to give the reds a 29-17 lead by the end of the first quarter as Tamir Blatt helped the yellow-and-blue cut the advantage down to just 4-points in the second period but an active Jaylen Hoard helped Stefanos Dedas’s team to move in front 46-35 by halftime.

Roman Sorkin – Photo Credit: Yehuda Halickman

Roman Sorkin scored in the paint to try and get Maccabi back into the game but Tyler Ennis found points on the inside and outside while Kyle Alexander did the same to bump the lead up to 63-49 after thirty minutes of play. Blatt and Bonzie Colson tried to once again keep Oded Katash’s squad in the game but Munford had the hot hand in the final frame to wrap up the win and force and winner take all game three.

Xavier Munford – Photo Credit: Yehuda Halickman

Munford led the way with 25 points, Hoard added 15 points while Tyler Ennis and Kyle Alexander each scored 11 points in the win. Sorkin scored 16 points, Colson added 15 points and Brown scored 13 points in the loss.

Stefanos Dedas – Photo Credit: Yehuda Halickman

“We want to dedicate this win to the family of the soldiers who were killed and all the soldiers in the country,” Hapoel Tel Aviv head coach Stefanos Dedas said. “There are more serious things in life other than basketball and this is kindergarten compared to real life. We played better than Maccabi for 40 minutes and we showed winning character during the game. It’s 1-1 and the pressure is on them back at their home court. We have to show our best version for the next forty minutes.”

Oded Katash – Photo Credit: Yehuda Halickman

“This was not a good game from us and there were a lot of issues,” Maccabi Tel Aviv head coach Oded Katash side. “There are games that you can learn a lot from and some you need to forget very quickly, this is one of them and now It’s one game for the title. Pressure isn’t a bad thing and it’s part of what we do. We are going home now and we will play in front of our fans and this is what we battled for the entire season.”

Tomer Ginat – Photo Credit: Yehuda Halickman

Tomer Ginat spoke about the win, “It’s the finals against Maccabi Tel Aviv and we have to be aggressive and use the energy from this arena and the fans. We didn’t want the season to end and now we have a chance to win it all on Monday. We wanted to stay alive and give ourselves a chance to take home a title this season.”

John Dibartolomeo – Photo Credit: Yehuda Halickman

John Dibartolomeo looked back at the defeat and what lies ahead in game three, “I didn’t think we were there from a focus standpoint and from a defensive standpoint and they dictated the pace of the game. In order to win the championship we have to play our game and we’ve done it all year. It’s one of the reasons we put ourselves in the position to be in first place and we can play back on our home floor with a chance to win the title. We have to get past this game and make the proper adjustments.”

Xavier Munford – Photo Credit: Yehuda Halickman

John Dibartolomeo for Maccabi Tel Aviv and Tyler Ennis for Hapoel Tel Aviv traded layups to begin the game, Lorenzo Brown went from deep, both Xavier Munford and Josh Nebo came in with alley-oops, Roman Sorkin scored inside while Tomer Ginat and Munford went from downtown to give the reds a 16-9 lead midway through the first quarter. Tamir Blatt dialled up long distance, Munford did the same, Sorkin scored inside, Munford went deep again, Jasiel Rivero scored inside, Ginat went from beyond the arc as did Bar Timor to give the hosts a 29-17 lead after ten minutes of play.

Idan Zalmanson – Photo Credit: Yehuda Halickman

Rafi Menco scored a pair from the line to begin the second quarter, Jaylen Hoard dunked, Bonzie Colson and Idan Zalmanson traded baskets, Brown drained one from deep, Blatt scored a long deuce and then a 3-pointer to cut the lead down to 35-29 with five minuets left in the half. Kyle Alexander put in a floater, Colson did the same, Nebo put down a mighty dunk, Braian Angola hit a jumper, Hoard posterized Rivero, Sorkin scored inside but a hot Hoard went from deep to send Stefanos Dedas’s team into halftime with a 46-35 advantage.

Kyle Alexander – Photo Credit: Yehuda Halickman

Kyle Alexander dunked to start off the third quarter, Colson dunked, Sorkin put in a 3-point play and then dunked, Tyler Ennis scored from the inside and outside, Sorkin responded on the inside and outside but Hapoel increased the lead up to 63-49 after thirty minutes of action.

Tamir Blatt – Photo Credit: Yehuda Halickman

Blatt opened up the fourth quarter from downtown, Colson added a pair of deuces, Munford hit an off balance triple and Brown put in a layup but the reds continued to lead 70-58 with 5:49 remaining in regulation time. Colson dropped a bucket, Ginat scored inside, Menco put in a jumper as did Angola, Brown went from deep, but Munford drilled two from beyond the arc to close out the game.

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