Maccabi Tel Aviv sweeps into finals after 82-73 win over Hapoel Jerusalem

Maccabi Tel Aviv advanced to the finals with a 82-73 win over Hapoel Jerusalem to sweep into the championship series 2-0. Oded Katash’s team jumped out to an early lead thanks to Bonzie Colson, Roman Sorkin and Jasiel Rivero and bumped up their lead to 47-32 by halftime with Sorkin and Lorenzo Brown doing the damage. However, Yovel Zoosman came out of halftime possessed and scored at will to bring Yonatan Alon’s squad to within 59-56 after thirty minutes, but Rivero, Sorkin, Brown and Colson were able to stave off Speedy Smith, Khadeen Carrington and the reds to take the win and the series.

Roman Sorkin and Jasiel Rivero – Photo credit: Yehuda Halickman

Sorkin scored 20 points and took 13 rebounds, Colson added 15 points, Brown dropped 14 points and Rivero scored 11 points in the win. Zoosman and Carrington each scored 15 points while Williams added 14 points in the loss.

Oded Katash – Photo credit: Yehuda Halickman

“I’m really happy as to how we came into the game and how aggressive we were,” Maccabi Tel Aviv Head Coach Oded Katash said. “We expected this in a Classico between Jerusalem and Maccabi. For three quarters we were excellent defensively but not in the third quarter where we gave them some open looks and it hurt us as they came back into the game. We spoke about winning the game during the timeout and that’s what we did. I’m very happy.”

Yonatan Alon – Photo credit: Yehuda Halickman

“We didn’t play properly offensively and we allowed Maccabi to get into the game very quickly,” Hapoel Jerusalem Head Coach Yonatan Alon said. “That kind of disturbed us, we made some changes at halftime but that wasn’t enough. Jerusalem is a top team and we finished a bit low in the standings and had to face Holon and then Maccabi. This season could have gone to even worse places than how it ended up finishing as we could have really fallen apart. But we did finish the season with a title and we were able to fill up the arena so we need to be proud of what we accomplished.”

Antonius Cleveland – Photo credit: Yehuda Halickman

Antonius Cleveland who didn’t play in the first game but did in the second made an impact on the contest to help Maccabi to the win, “I wanted to play and help being out there. I didn’t play here last time and I wanted to experience that. we have a deep team and we have played without Wade Baldwin and Lorenzo Brown at some point in the season but Tamir Blatt can play and Jasiel Rivero has been great.”

Yovel Zoosman – Photo credit: Yehuda Halickman

Yovel Zoosman looked back at the series that was, “We didn’t do a good enough job shutting down their offense and while we were able to get back into the game and it was -3 or so, they put in a number of easy buckets to create separation again. Maccabi is a very high quality team but I do think we were able to cut off Blatt and Brown’s passes but it wasn’t enough.”

Bonzie Colson – Photo credit: Yehuda Halickman

Jake Cohen with a deuce and Bonzie Colson with a dunk got Maccabi Tel Aviv off and running while Khadeen Carrington countered for Hapoel Jerusalem from deep but the visitors grabbed a 10-5 lead midway through the first quarter. Carrington scored for the hosts, Antonius Cleveland knocked in a corner 3-ball, JaCorey Williams put in a mini-hook, Joe Thomasson went from deep, Roman Sorkin and Yovel Zoosman traded baskets in the paint while the former then hit a triple but so did Noam Dovrat for the reds but the yellow-and-blue grabbed a 21-14 lead after ten minutes of play.

Roman Sorkin and Tamir Blatt – Photo credit: Dov Halickman

Cleveland led off the second quarter with points, Alex Tyus put in a pair of buckets, Tamir Blatt nailed a corner triple, Or Cornelius split the defense and scored an easy layup. Colson went from deep, Rivero and Williams traded baskets but Maccabi held a 35-22 lead with five minutes left in the half. Cleveland went end to end for a bucket, Williams dunked, Rivero cleaned up a Rafi Menco miss, Lorenzo Brown went in for a layup, Zoosman came back from deep, Sorkin cleaned up another Menco miss and Brown added another bucket to bump the Maccabi advantage up to 47-32 at halftime.

Yovel Zoosman – Photo credit: Yehuda Halickman

Carrington opened the scoring in the third quarter, Zoosman drilled home a corner 3-pointer, Brown and Nimrod Levi traded baskets, Zoosman went from deep again and Chris Johnson dropped a 3-point play to pull to within 53-48 midway through the frame. Sorkin put in a basket, Carrington and Williams scored but Sorkin came back with a deuce inside to keep Oded Katash’s team in front 59-56 after thirty minutes of action.

Lorenzo Brown – Photo credit: Yehuda Halickman

Rivero began the fourth quarter with a bucket, Carrington answered, Sorkin dunked off a Menco miss, Speedy Smith went from deep, John Dibartolomeo nailed a midrange, Colson drilled home a corner 3-ball, Smith answered as did Carrington and Dovrat to keep Jerusalem close but down 71-68 with 5:03 remaining in regulation time. Colson scored inside and then added a 3-point play, Carrington put in a floater, Sorkin scored in the paint, Brown did the same and then hit his free throws to close out the series.

Bonzie Colson -Photo credit: Yehuda Halickman

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