“The league should really look at the events that happened tonight” – Maccabi wins WWE PPV over Hapoel 85-76

Maccabi Tel Aviv needed overtime to dispose of a pesky Hapoel Tel Aviv squad 85-76 at the Drive In Arena. The Reds mounted a fierce late 4th quarter comeback going on a 13-0 run capped off by a Tomer Ginat layup as time expired to send the game into overtime all knotted up at 71-71. But the Yellow & Blue pulled it together in the extra period to take home the win. Scottie Wilbekin led Maccabi with 18 points, Michael Roll added 16 points going 4/5 from beyond the arc while John DiBartolomeo chipped in with 15 points. Jerel McNeal scored 18 points, Tomer Ginat dropped 13 points and pulled down 21 rebounds and Jamal Shuler scored 11 points in the loss.

Maccabi took a 10-9 lead midway through the first quarter as Wilbekin drilled home a 3-pointer while being fouled to hold the slight advantage early on. However, the game became testy soon thereafter as DeAndre Kane was ejected following an altercation with a Hapoel Tel Aviv fan. The fracas didn’t seem to bother Wilbekin as the guard continued to score at will and the Yellow & Blue took a 23-14 after ten minutes.


DiBartolomeo drained a triple as the shot clock expired for Maccabi while Jamal Shuler tried to ignite the Reds but Ioannis Sfairpoulos’s squad remained in the lead 37-28 with 4:12 left in the first half. Stephens picked up steam for Hapoel but the Yellow & Blue took a 42-34 advantage into halftime.

Veteran Hapoel guard Raviv Limonad, Garlon Green and Rich Howell chipped away at the Maccabi lead and pulled within 2-points, 47-45 with three minutes remaining in the third quarter. Roll hit a clinical 3-pointer to give the Yellow & Blue some breathing room but Stu Douglass scored a triple of his own as Maccabi held a 53-48 lead after thirty minutes of action.


Wilbekin scored his first points since the opening frame, Roll hit a pair of triples followed by a Zoosman 3-pointer to extend the Maccabi lead to 67-54 halfway through the final frame. However, Howell, Green, McNeal and Ginat led Hapoel to an 13-0 run as the latter scored a bucket at the buzzer to send the game into overtime.

Maccabi came out with fire in their eyes in the extra period as Wilbekin did the majority of the damage to dominate the frame and give the Yellow & Blue an 85-76 win.


1) “We had a 13-point lead and after that the game wasn’t basketball it was wrestling. With the wrestling we showed character when we went into overtime and we started to play basketball. During the timeout we stayed concentrated and focused ourselves to play basketball. We saw today some incidents that were not basketball. When a player goes to pick up a ball and the fans spit on his face and his body, all over him and they slap the physiotherapist behind the bench so this is not good for basketball,” and with that Maccabi Tel Aviv Head Coach Ioannis Sfairopoulos said he would not take any questions and walked out of the press conference. As with most Derbies at the Drive-In this one got ugly and ugly fast. Before the game one of the journalists asked me if I thought there was the potential that the game would be called due to off court nonsense that would spill onto the court and I said, no way, we will never see that in basketball. Well, we almost did. DeAndre Kane went to get the ball near the Hapoel fans an altercation took pace which led to spitting and throwing things onto the court and the guard had to be restrained. He was then ejected for his actions. Not a good look to say the least. I couldn’t believe my eyes as I had flashbacks to 2014 at Bloomfield Stadium when Fuad a Hapoel Tel Aviv fan raced out of the stands and attacked Maccabi Tel Aviv’s Eran Zahavi. Yes, we almost had that (See video below). And I thought that the next WWE Pay-Per-View was supposed to be next week’s Money in the Bank.

2) The league needs to do something about the abuse dished out by the Hapoel fans and they can’t sit on their hands anymore. We’ve seen stands closed, radius games and the like and the fans don’t get the message; you can’t interfere and abuse the players of an opposing team and it doesn’t matter if it’s a Derby or not. Are we going back in time to the days of the barbarians? Is it normal to see a fan verbally and then physically abuse a physiotherapist?

I asked Jake Cohen what the league should do, “That’s where I’m lost and it’s above my pay grade. I’m just a basketball player and people who run the league should really look at the events that happened tonight and see how we can improve the experience. This isn’t good for anyone. It isn’t a good look for Hapoel Tel Aviv, it’s not a good look for Maccabi Tel Aviv and it’s not a good look for the people who watch the game on TV and see this “balagan” and it needs to get better. Like I said it sets a dangerous precedent. If you don’t have punishment for these actions it’s going to keep getting worse. We’ve seen incidents with Regev Fanan, we’ve seen horrible chants towards Maccabi President Shimon Mizrahi. Where is the progress and why isn’t it getting any better.”


What did Alex Tyus think the league should do?

3) DeAndre Kane needs to understand that he can’t react the way he did because he would be ejected which he subsequently was. A professional athlete has to just try as best as possible to put the nonsense and abuse to the side. Of course, it’s easier said than done and Kane like any other person reacted how most would. But the bigger issue here is that he should never been put in a position where he needed to react the way he did. Jake Cohen spoke about his teammate, “I’ve been spit on before and it’s not a fun thing and I understand DeAndre’s frustration. But I didn’t see anything that happened and I’d like to see what he did as to why he was kicked out. I trust that he will learn from it no matter what, because he is a valuable player for us and when he gets kicked out he can’t help us. At the same time he wasn’t the instigator and we’ve seen a lot of actions before and the retaliation gets punished more harshly than the instigator. I want to see some justice and fairness. There is no retribution or consequences for these actions. It sets a dangerous precedent because every future team we play against might behave like this towards us since there is no punishment for them and if we react we get kicked out of the game.”


By the way, there was a game as well. Maccabi dominated for the most part but collapsed under the pressure and “wrestling” that we saw over the last 3 minutes as Hapoel went on a 13-0 run punctuated by Ginat’s last gasp layup. The Reds pressed DiBartolomeo when he was the main ball handler and they did a good job in having the Yellow & Blue turn over the ball 20 times. But Wilbekin settled the troops down in the overtime period as Maccabi took an important win as they have for all intents and purposes locked up the top spot in the standings. For Hapoel they are still the drivers seat for a playoff spot as they can determine their own destiny but they have a huge league game coming up at Hapoel Holon and will need to win at least one contest in order to lock up a post season spot.

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