Maccabi Tel Aviv painted the city yellow-and-blue as they took the derby over Hapoel Tel Aviv 95-90 in a fast paced high octane game that saw end to end action throughout the forty minutes of action. Oded Katash’s squad featured half a dozen players in double digits as they controlled the boards in a game that came right down to the wire against their city rival.
Next up for Maccabi is a Euroleague clash on Tuesday evening against Olympiacos as they will look to get back onto the winning track after having lost three continental clashes in a row.
In front of worlds champion boxer Floyd Mayweather and former Maccabi captain Derrick Sharp, Alex Poythress came out like a man possessed in the first quarter as the Maccabi forward helped the hosts to a 28-21 lead but Xavier Munford came back with a huge second quarter to pull Hapoel to within a pair of points, 49-47 at halftime. Jordan McRae and J’Covan Brown helped the Reds to the lead early on in the third quarter, but John Dibartolomeo got hot from the outside to allow the yellow-and-blue to retake the advantage 71-68 after thirty minutes.
Jalen Adams, Wade Baldwin and Roman Sorkin pushed the Maccabi lead to 80-71 midway in the final frame, but Hapoel wouldn’t give up as Tomer Ginat, Brown and Munford all found the basket to come to within one-point, 91-90 with 16 seconds remaining in the game. However, Bonzie Colson hit a pair of free throws and added a basket to hand Oded Katash the Derby win.
Poythress led the way with 20 points, Dibartolomeo added 18 points, Sorkin scored 14 points and pulled down 13 rebounds while Baldwin chipped in with 12 points and assists in the win. J’Covan Brown paced Hapoel with 18 points and 8 assists, Xavier Munford scored 16 points while Jordan McRae and Tomer Ginat each scored 15 points in the loss.
“We are the midst of a very intense week,” Katash began. “It was very hard to get back to ourselves after the defeat at Partizan Belgrade so it was great that we played at home because the fans were able to give us the energy that we were lacking. We played against a very good team in Hapoel Tel Aviv but we didn’t have great focus when we were up by 13 points, but it’s not easy to win when there is a Euroleague double week coming up. Many teams in Europe including Barcelona and Baskonia lost in league play this weekend.”
“We didn’t play a big game and in this arena you can fall apart very quickly but we were there right until the end,” Hapoel coach Danny Franco explained. “We came to the last possession in both Derby games this season with a chance to win and it was 91-90 with seconds left and we needed one basket, but the difference in this game was the rebounds.”
Maccabi captain John Dibartolomeo reflected on the win, “These derby games have a whole other meaning and the longer you are here at Maccabi the more you understand that but the new players understood that. We have a lot of players here who can step up. These Derbies mean a lot to me and we struggled with them last year.”
Tomer Ginat also spoke about the game that was, “At the end of the day we didn’t play our best game, but we were there at the end with the possibility to win. We had to be more aggressive and put more body on them and next time we will be in better shape. We wanted to win but it wasn’t enough.”
Chris Horton cleaned up a miss and Jordan McRae dunked to get Hapoel Tel Aviv off to a solid start while Alex Poythress, Roman Sorkin and Wade Baldwin all responded for Maccabi Tel Aviv as the yellow-and-blue took a slim 8-6 lead midway through the first quarter.
Poythress and Sorkin continued to score, J’Covan Brown with a triple got on the stat sheet for the reds, Maccabi’s Lorenzo Brown found points while Tomer Ginat scored on the inside and the outside to put Danny Franco’s squad in front 20-16 with 3:30 left in the period. Rafi Menco, Sorkin and Jalen Adams with a 3-pointer all scored while John Dibartolomeo drilled one home from downtown to give Oded Katash’s team a 28-21 lead after ten minutes of play,
Baldwin went from deep, Poythress added a bucket as did Adams, Ginat drained a 3-pointer, Brown put in a 3-point play and Xavier Munford went from long distance to cut the lead to 38-32 with 6:56 left in the second quarter. Baldwin put in an off balance jumper in the paint, Munford answered right back with a 3-point play and a triple, Tokoto scored, Adams dunked off the break, Poythress scored in the paint, J’Covan Brown hit a jumper as Timor and Baldwin traded triples to end the half as Maccabi held a slim 49-47 advantage.
McRae and Sorkin scored at either end, J’Covan Brown put in a deuce, Zo Brown went in for a reverse layup, Idan Zalmanson scored in the paint and McRae went from deep to give Hapoel a 58-53 lead midway through the frame. Poythress found points, Ginat and Colson traded baskets, Dibartolomeo went for a trio from downtown, Munford and Tokoto each scored a baseline jumper and Baldwin drove in for a layup to keep put Maccabi back in front 71-68 after thirty minutes of end to end action.
Baldwin fed Sorkin off the break for a basket, Adams went from deep, so did Timor, Colson scored to give the yellow-and-blue a 80-71 lead with 5:24 left in regulation time. McRae came back with a deuce, Poythress dunked off a Colson ball, Dibartolomeo scored a layup, Timor, J’Covan Brown, Ginat and Munford scored to pull Hapoel to within just 2-points but Colson free throws sealed the deal as Maccabi took the Derby win.