Maccabi Tel Aviv takes game one over Hapoel Jerusalem, moves to within one win of Israeli League final

Maccabi Tel Aviv got by Hapoel Jerusalem 89-82 thanks to a fourth quarter comeback to move to within one win of the finals. Tamir Blatt, Bonzie Colson and Roman Sorkin were able to out-duel Khadeen Carrington and Speedy Smith down the stretch to snatch the win from the jaws of defeat with clutch shooting to take the victory and the 1-0 series lead.

Maccabi Tel Aviv – Photo Credit: Dov Halickman

With each team playing without one of their leaders due to injury as Maccabi’s Wade Baldwin and Levi Randolph for Jerusalem, the reds jumped out to an early lead with Carrington, JaCorey Williams and Nimrod Levi all finding the basket but Josh Nebo, Jasiel Rivero and Colson countered to head into halftime all knotted up at 42-42. Nebo who had played a solid first half was unavailable for the second due to a leg injury as Speedy Smith along with Noam Dovrat and Levi kept Yonatan Alon’s team in front, but Blatt hit huge buckets from deep while dishing out assists galore to Sorkin and Colson as Oded Katash’s team moved in front late to take the win.

Tamir Blatt – Photo Credit: Dov Halickman

Blatt scored 16 points dished out 11 assists and drew 10 fouls, Colson and Rivero both scored 16 points while Sorkin scored 14 points in the victory. Carrington scored 24 points, Smith added 20 points and Levi scored 13 points in the loss.

Oded Katash – Photo Credit: Dov Halickman

“We were a bit under pressure and wanted it too much in the first half,” Maccabi Tel Aviv Head Coach Oded Katash said. “We didn’t play defensively the way we wanted to. We weren’t playing calmly and I understood that. The second half we played better especially on the defensive side. But what really won the game for us was the extra couple of rebounds and the fact that we didn’t turn the ball over. We used our advantage by playing with two bigs and we went to the line. However, we still have to play better in a couple of days.”

Yonatan Alon – Photo Credit: Dov Halickman

“We controlled a lot of the game and there were some decisions that went one way or the other. Congrats to Maccabi,” Jerusalem Head Coach Yonatan Alon began. “We played three games against Holon and each team came to play and here all of a sudden Maccabi went to the line 37 times. We want to give a good product for the fans and I can’t remember the last time a 40 minute game had 37 free throws.”

Roman Sorkin – Photo Credit: Dov Halickman

Roman Sorkin discussed the game from his point of view, “We did good work in general but we could have done a bit of a better job on the offensive boards. Josh Nebo is an important player for us and I hope he will play but we have a big roster and someone else will fill his shoes. Of course he’s a crucial player for us but we will do our best. We should have played better defense in the first half. But it’s an important playoff game and both teams played as it was. We will have to do a better job in game two as we have a goal that we want to reach this season.”

Khadeen Carrington – Photo Credit: Dov Halickman

Khadeen Carrington reflected on the loss while also talking about compensating for Levi Randolph’s absence, “It was a semifinal versus Maccabi and it was self explanatory as both teams fought and we left it all out there. We can’t cry over split milk. We controlled the whole game and made some mistakes near the end. Obviously [the injured] Levi Randolph is a big part of what we do and he’s a leader for us and that was a lot of points that we didn’t have and I had to pick it up. We all stepped up and we all played well for the whole game. We will watch some film and clean some things up and give ourselves a good chance on Friday.”

JaCorey Williams – Photo Credit: Dov Halickman

Carrington, Williams and Levi all found the bottom of the basket for Hapoel Jerusalem while Joe Thomasson and Josh Nebo countered, but baskets from the outside and inside from Levi gave the reds an early 13-6 lead midway through the first quarter. Carrington and Roman Sorkin traded baskets, Jasiel Rivero found points in the paint, Chris Johnson polished off a nice passing play, Rivero came right back with a dunk and then put in a 3-point play but Johnson dropped a comer 3-ball and Yovel Zoosman hit his free throws to give the visitors a 26-19 lead after ten minutes of play.

Jasiel Rivero – Photo Credit: Dov Halickman

Rivero scored on the inside and Sorkin did the small from the outside to begin the second quarter, Speedy Smith answered, Tamir Blatt dialled up long distance, Josh Nebo dunked, Smith went from deep but Bonzie Colson’s layup drew the yellow-and-blue even at 33-33 with 5:49 left in the first half. Smith scored a pair of buckets, Nebo responded inside, Carrington went from downtown, Lorenzo Brown scored his first points of the game, Smith and Nebo traded buckets, Blatt thread the needle to Colson inside, Carrington again drilled one home from beyond the arc and hit his free throws to give Yonatan Alon’s team a 48-44 lead at halftime.

Bonzie Colson – Photo Credit: Dov Halickman

Smith nailed a 3-pointer and Levi added a deuce to bump the Jerusalem lead up to 9-points at the start of the third quarter, but Blatt went for a pair from deep while Colson and Jake Cohen also scored to tie the game up at 54-54 midway through the period. Dovrat went from the inside and outside, Sorkin went from downtown, John Dibartolomeo put in a layup, Carrington and Williams came back with points to keep the reds in front 66-64 after thirty minutes of action.

Tamir Blatt – Photo Credit: Dov Halickman

Colson scored to open the fourth quarter, Johnson came back with a 3-point play, Sorkin put in a pair, Levi returned the favor, but Blatt free throws put Maccabi ahead 75-71 with five minutes remaining in regulation time. Carrington scored from the inside and outside, Colson scored off an offensive board and then hit a long two, Smith responded from deep but Brown hit his free throws to seal the deal and move to within one win of the finals.

Sign up for our newsletter


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may also like…


Subscribe To Our Newsletter

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

You have Successfully Subscribed!