Maccabi takes Classico with 89-79 win over Jerusalem, Herzliya drops Holon, Galil takes Balkan League crown

May 1, 2022 | Holyland Hoops

Maccabi Tel Aviv downed Hapoel Jerusalem 89-79 to take the Israeli Classico as six players scored in double digits to notch the win. The victory ensures that if Avi Even’s squad wins the final two games of the regular season they will secure home court advantage throughout the playoffs.

The yellow-and-blue got off to a quick start with points by Ante Zizic and Keenan Evans but a stellar first half by Jalen Adams with 21 points sent the Reds into halftime holding a 48-44 lead. However, a 13-0 Maccabi run to begin the second half led by James Nunnally and Derrick Williams gave the hosts the lead for good as captain John Dibartolomeo put the game away with a trio of fourth quarter triples to take the 10-point victory.

Evans led the way with 15 points, 5 rebounds and 8 assists, Nunnally added 15 points while Williams, Dibartolomeo and Roman Sorkin each had 11 points in the win. Adams paced Jerusalem with 26 points and Suleiman Braimoh had 18 points in the loss.

Avi Even – Photo Credit: Dov Halickman

“We played well in the first half of a game that was going at a quick pace,” Yotam Halperin, the Jerusalem coach said. “But we couldn’t handle Maccabi’s aggressiveness and perhaps we were a bit tired. We had a shorter rotation than Maccabi and we will learn from this game.”

Maccabi captain John Dibartolomeo reflected about the victory, “We played ok overall and they had a strong first half where we didn’t do much. In the second half we were stronger and had a very good third quarter. But we needed to close this game out much earlier. They had a chance to come back and you can’t give them those types of opportunities.”

KC Rivers – Photo Credit:

KC Rivers, Jerusalem’s veteran swingman also spoke about the game that was, “It was tale of two halves. I’m the first half we were aggressive and we came out executing our game plan. But we came out flat in the third quarter and once they took the game over it was hard to comeback.”

Ante Zizic got the Classico underway for a quick pair of baskets in the paint for Maccabi Tel Aviv, Scottie Wilbekin drained a 3-pointer, Keenan Evans hit a turnaround jumper while John Egbunu dunked for Hapoel Jerusalem as the yellow-and-blue grabbed a 9-4 lead midway through the first quarter.

Jalen Adams – Photo Credit:

Jalen Adams went from deep for a pair of triples, Itay Segev dunked, Derrick Williams responded as he scored a tough basket in the paint and added a tear drop, Retin Obasohan dialled up long distance, Iftach Ziv scored from behind the arc and Williams added more points as Avi Even’s team took a 24-23 lead after ten minutes of action.

Suleiman Braimoh opened the second quarter with a pair of buckets for Yotam Halperin’s squad, Adams once again dialed up long distance, Roman Sorkin put down an alley-oop from Evans and added another pair in the paint as Jerusalem snatched a 34-30 lead with 5:25 left in the half.

James Nunnally took the ball to the hoop, Adams nailed another 3-pointer while Adam Ariel did as well, Sorkin stuffed Egbunu at one end and dunked at the other, but Adams went from deep yet again while KC Rivers did as well but Nunnally ended the half with a 3-pointer to cut the Reds advantage to 48-44 at halftime.

Keenan Evans – Photo Credit:’ll

Evans began the third quarter with a pair of floaters, Sorkin stole the ball and fed Zizic for a dunk and Nunnally nailed a 3-pointer while Williams scored in the paint to finish off a 13-0 run to take a 57-48 lead midway through the frame. Willy Workman finally found the basket for the Reds, Evans, Zizic and Sorkin countered for Maccabi, but Rivers went from downtown and Braimoh scored, however, the hosts stayed in front 64-57 after thirty minutes of play.

Braimoh started off the fourth quarter the same way he ended the third with a basket, John Dibartolomeo drilled home a trio of triples while Braimoh answered for the Reds but Maccabi kept the lead 73-63 with 6:17 remaining in regulation time.

Suleiman Braimoh – Photo Credit:

Evans scored, Ariel nailed a corner 3-pointer, Wilbekin and Adams traded shots from deep, while the latter added a layup, Braimoh went from downtown, Rivers found points but Dibartolomeo scored an uncontested layup to wrap up the win.

Bnei Herzliya eased by Hapoel Holon 90-75 thanks to a big second half to record the victory and leapfrog the purples into third place as they ready for the Champions League Final Four at the end of the week. After a close first half as Chris Babb and Adam Smith paced their teams respectively to head into halftime with visiting Herzliya holding a slim 1-point, 41-40 lead. However, the second half was all Oren Aharoni’s squad as DJ Cooper, Chinanu Onuaku and Babb led the Al to notch the 15-point win.

Babb scored 24 points, Cooper added 19 points and 11 assists while Onuaku also recorded a double-double with 14 points and 12 rebounds. Adam Smith was Holon’s high scorer with 24 points and Chris Jonson chipped in with 15 points in the defeat.

Chris Babb – Photo Credit:

“What a win for us,” Chris Babb excitedly said following the win as he also spoke about the importance of point guard DJ Cooper. “We stuck to our game plan, stayed together as a team and fought until the end. DJ has been fantastic for us. A veteran, pass first point guard who always makes the right play. He’s been an anchor for us since Quinton went down.”

In the Balkan League Final, Hapoel Galil Elyon dominated Maccabi Haifa 83-65 to capture the European crown up in Nahariya. The Galilee squad led from the get go as the Greens never threatened Barak Peleg’s team who were dominant in the win. DJ Kennedy led the way with 21 points, Nimrod Levi added 16 points and Gaby Chachashvili chipped in with 12 points in the victory. Steve Taylor paced Haifa with 13 points while Kwake Vaughn added 11 points in the loss.

Sign up for our newsletter


You may also like…


Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates. 

You have Successfully Subscribed!