Maccabi downed Hapoel 90-79 in the Derby Championship finals to take a 1-0 series lead as five yellow-and-blue players scored in double digits to lead a well balanced attack in the victory. Oded Katash’s squad took a slim lead into halftime thanks to stellar play from Jake Cohen ans Wade Baldwin while Jordan McRae kept Danny Franco’s team in the game. But an early third quarter 3-point barrage by Lorenzo Brown and Bonzie Colson along with Baldwin’s all around solid play helped give Maccabi the breathing room they needed to sew up the win. Maccabi will look to wrap the series up on Sunday night at the Drive In Arena while Hapoel will try to stay alive and send the series back to Yad Eliyahu for a third and decisive game.
Baldwin led the way with 14 points and 9 assists as Brown, Cohen and Colson each scored 13 points in the win. McRae scored 18 points as Tomer Ginat ans Jaylen Hoard each scored 10 points in the loss.
“This was a good game from us,” Oded Katash began. “We were focussed and we had two goals for this game which was to stop their running game and control the rebounds. We did a good job on both which is what gave us the win. We also forced them into turning the ball over. That was the key and our goal. When we got to our shots we were able to hit them and now we have to look ahead to game two.”
“We are very disappointed from this game,” Danny Franco said. “We didn’t play the way we expected to right from the start of the game. Things that we suffered from in the past were issues again from the outset. We played against a good team and we are too. We need to really look at ourselves and the days leading up to the game. This was not a good game from everyone and each person has to take a good look at themselves. We have to come in and have a better game on Sunday and play the way we know that we can.”
Jarell Martin looked back at the win, “I was battling a minor injury and I was feeling better and it was great to be back with the team to be out there battling for a title. It was great. It’s a blessing to be in the position and we have one more to go. We have to stay poised and keep fighting.”
Bar Timor reflected on the loss, “It’s clear we didn’t come into this game the way we wanted to and they grabbed many offensive rebounds. But this is only the first game and we will come back in the second game on Sunday.”
Jordan McRae got busy for Hapoel while Lorenzo Brown and Wade Baldwin did the same for Maccabi as the hosts took a 16-12 lead midway through the first quarter. Bonzie Colson and Jake Cohen found points for the yellow-and-blue while Idan Zalmanson worked the inside for the reds as McRae kept finding the basket to keep the visitors close but down 25-22 after ten minutes of play.
Cohen, Roman Sorkin and Baldwin all scored to get the second quarter underway as Cohen added another 3-pointer to bump up the Maccabi lead to 36-24 with 5:12 left in the first half. Tomer Ginat scored for Danny Franco’s squad, Alex Poythress did the same for Oded Katash’s team, Gil Beni and Rafi Menco traded triples as the yellow-and-blue took a 43-38 advantage into halftime.
Colson dialled up long distance to begin the third quarter, Lorenzo Brown drilled home a pair from deep, Bar Timor and Poythress traded buckets, Colson scored in the paint as did McRae at the other end while Chinanu Onuaku and Baldwin did the same to keep Maccabi in front 58-46 midway through the period. Jaylen Hoard put down a pair of dunks and added a bucket but Maccabi free throws helped the hosts stay ahead 67-56 after thirty minutes of action.
Baldwin knocked down a midrange to get the fourth quarter started, McRae cut to the hoop for a layup, Colson went from deep as did John Dibartolomeo to give Maccabi a commanding 79-58 lead with five minutes remaining. Iftach Ziv went from downtown, Beni cut in off the baseline for a layup, Baldwin fed Jarell Martin as the forward put the hammer down twice to polish off the win.