Maccabi Tel Aviv conquers Hapoel Jerusalem to claim Israeli Classico

Mar 11, 2024 | Holyland Hoops

Maccabi Tel Aviv defeated Hapoel Jerusalem 90-78 as captain John Dibartolomeo proved to be unstoppable to help the yellow-and-blue not only take the Classico but also bump up their Israeli league winning streak to 10 games.

Wade Baldwin – Photo Credit: Dov Halickman

Wade Baldwin and Bonzie Colson got busy for the hosts but Levi Randolph came back with points to keep the visitors close, however, an on court scuffle saw Khadeen Carrington ejected for leaving the bench but fine play from JaCorey Williams kept Jerusalem in the game and Oded Katash’s team was only able to head into halftime sporting a 44-37 advantage

Levi Randolph – Photo credit: Dov Halickman

Oz Blayzer and Randolph continued to threaten for the Reds but Dibartolomeo started hitting his shots from deep while Baldwin scored key baskets in the final frame to close out the Maccabi victory.

Miki Berkowitz – Photo Credit: Dov Halickman

Prior to the game, Maccabi Tel Aviv held a ceremony in honor of Miki Berkowitz’s 70th Birthday as his family, friends and former teammates were all present to honor the yellow-and-blue great.

Dibartolomeo led all scorers with 19 points, Baldwin added 17 points and Colson scored 16 points in the win. Randolph scored 18 points, Speedy Smith chipped on with 15 points and Williams scored 14 points in the loss.

Oded Katash – Photo credit: Dov Halickman

“It was an intense and aggressive game that was tough to officiate,” Katash said. “It was a good game, we are playing well but we did have more turnovers than assists for the first time in quite some time which is not our usual game so Jerusalem deserves credit for that. They came up with some tough defense every time we tried to go on a run, but we won the game against a very good team and to score 90 points agajnst a team like Jerusalem is never easy.”

Ilias Kantzouris – Photo Credit: Dov Halickman

“Maccabi won the game fairly and we had some issues that were difficult for us to handle,” Jerusalem coach Ilias Kantzouris said. “Khadeen Carrington being ejected and Or Cornelius not being able to continue after halftime isn’t something easy to handle when you face a team like Maccabi. Even though we were able to come back we made some unforced turnovers and missed some concentration on defense.

Bonzie Colson – Photo Credit: Dov Halickman

Bonzie Colson looked back at the victory, “It was a tough game and Jerusalem is a very talented group, talented guards with a lot of guys from last year. But at the end of the day we stick with our principles and it doesn’t matter who we are playing. We got a lot of energy from some of the guys that lifted us during the moments where they went on a run.”

Oz Blayzer – Photo Credit: Dov Halickman

Oz Blayzer spoke about the game from his point of view, “We had some good moments but every time we came close we had some issues, we lost some of our players and it’s tough to play here at Yad Eliyahu. We have to take the good things from this game and look ahead to later this week as we look to advance to the next stage of the Basketball Champions League. We are at a very critical juncture in our season and we have to make sure we come out and do our best.”

Photo credit: Dov Halickman

Wade Baldwin opened the game up with a midrange jumper for Maccabi Tel Aviv while Nimrod Levi put a deuce in for Hapoel Jerusalem, Jake Cohen finished off a nice passing play, Oz Blayzer came back from deep, Bonzie Colson put in a 3-point play and Levi Randolph knocked down a jumper as the score was all even at 7-7 midway through the period.

Chris Johnson – Photo credit: Dov Halickman

Lorenzo Brown put in a pair of floaters, Chris Johnson cut inside for a pair of baskets, JaCorey Williams jammed, Khadeen Carrington dropped a bucket, so did Jasiel Rivero on the other side of the court to give the hosts a 16-15 lead after ten minutes of play.

JaCorey Williams – Photo Credit: Dov Halickman

Baldwin went in for a 3-point play and hit a baseline jumper to begin the second quarter, Johnson put in his own 3-point play, Colson put in a deuce, Brown slammed off a fast break, Randolph went from deep while Colson dropped a 3-point play to bump the yellow-and-blue lead up to 29-21.

Jake Cohen- Photo credit: Dov Halickman

As tempers began to heat up, an on court incident occurred which saw Carrington leave the Hapoel bench and was ejected while technicals were handed out to a number of players for the scuffle. Speedy Smith went from downtown, Cohen did the same, John Dibartolomeo sliced inside for a reverse layup and Tamir Blatt dialled up long distance, Williams scored 8 straight points, Rafi Menco drilled home a triple, Smith responded and Levi scored to keep Jerusalem in the game but down 44-37 at halftime.

Nimrod Levi – Photo Credit: Dov Halickman

Colson dialled up long distance to get the third quarter underway, Blayzer and Levi did the same, Randolph put in a layup, Blayzer added another bucket and Dibartolomeo nailed a pair of triples to keep Oded Katash’s squad ahead 56-49 midway through the frame. Zoosman put in an easy layup, Brown checked in with a 3-point play, Randolph did the same, Williams put in a pair of deuces while Dibartolomeo and Menco both went from deep to keep Maccabi in front 65-60 after thirty minutes of action.

John Dibartolomeo- Photo credit: Dov Halickman

Dibartolomeo started off the fourth quarter just as he ended the last from downtown, Smith returned the favor, Blatt went from deep as did Levi at the other end, Nebo took the ball right through the paint like a hot knife through butter and Baldwin did the same as Maccabi continued to lead 76-68 with 5:36 remaining in regulation time. Dibartolomeo stole the ball and went in for a layup, Smith dialled up long distance as Baldwin and Colson each put in a tough layups to close out the win.

Spencer Weisz – Photo Credit: Yehuda Halickman

In other Israeli basketball action, Hapoel Afula surprised Hapoel Holon 72-60 as the hosts controlled the pace of play throughout the 40 minutes of play. Spencer Weisz paced Afula over the course of first half while Marcellus Earlington, Tomer Assayag and Lucas Goldenberg all came out strong in the second half as they were able to keep Tahjere McCall, Justin Smith and Netanel Artzi at bay to pick up the win,

Earlington scored 18 points, Goldenberg added 13 points and Assyag put in 12 points in the win. Smith scored 14 points, McCall added 13 points and Artzi scored 10 points and grabbed 10 boards in the loss.

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