This is it! Maccabi vs Hapoel Championship Derby Final

Jun 16, 2024 | Holyland Hoops

This is it! The Israel basketball league championship is on the line as Maccabi Tel Aviv and Hapoel Tel Aviv will battle it out for Holland Hoops supremacy at Yad Eliyahu in a do or die decisive game three slated for Monday night at 21:00.

The yellow-and-blue took game one at their home court while the reds did the same in game two but now game 3 is upon us as it’s only 40 minutes away from the title and chance to write history.

Oded Katash – Photo credit: Yehuda Halickman

Maccabi Tel Aviv head coach Oded Katash made one change and it was a significant one as Wade Baldwin will be listed for this game after having not played since game four of the team’s Euroleague quarterfinal series against Panathinaikos due to a hamstring injury that kept him out for 6 weeks.

There’s no question that he’s 100% fit or else there is no way he would be put at risk, however, is he in game shape after having been out for white some time and how effective can he be knowing that the pressure is not only massively on Maccabi but now also on his shoulders.

“He wants to play, he wants to finish with a title and that’s very important,” Katash said when asked if Baldwin would be listed to play.

Wade Baldwin – Photo credit: Yehuda Halickman

Now there is no question that he will play and it’s clear that should this be his last game with Maccabi he wants to go out a winner and leave with another league title inches back pocket.

However, there is another team in the mix and they want to make history of their own. After not having won the league championship in more than 50 years, the Reds under head coach Stefanos Dedas are in position to take home the title as well. The Greek tactician who came on board a few months ago in place of Danny Franco has one thing in mind and is loose goosey.

“We’re happy and we have energy and motivation to write history after so many years. If someone says you have 40 minutes to win the title, I would take this. I saw how much people believed that we could do it and there was optimism. We are ready mentally, tactically and strategically and we will be OK. 40 minutes and we will have fun.”

Stefanos Dedas – Photo credit: Dov Halickman

“We will go there and celebrate in their home and it’s only 40 minutes away,” Dedas continued. “I came here to win the league, win titles and play EuroCup, Euroleague. I am working on this process and I am happy, not nervous. I want to live the challenge and we have the opportunity.”

After game two which was surrounded with plenty of off court issues as it was last year, Katash just wants to make sure that his team gets back to their fundamentals and play basketball, nothing more and nothing less.

“We will try to concentrate on basketball, the game ended very late and there was no time to rest. We as coaches also have a lot of thoughts, there is not too much time to make adjustments, of course we really wanted to win game two, but we fought all year for the home advantage and we have to come with the right energies.”

Oded Katash – Photo Credit: Yehuda Halickman

Katash is also aware that some of his players may not be back with the team next year due to the security situation that had turned the club’s season upside down after the opening clash of the campaign.

“If there are players who don’t return, then there will be a sense of loss, but there is no doubt that it is due to the circumstances that we went through. There were basketball issues and some beyond that. I think that part of the team’s preparation is to concentrate on basketball as we have to play better and return to the basics.”

Lorenzo Brown spoke about coming into the game with fire which is something that Maccabi has sorely lacked over the last while, “The mindset is to win obviously. We want to come in fierce and with fire in our eyes like Shimon always says and to be prepared for anything. Guys are pretty upset about game two and I feel like now is to show upset we are.”

Lorenzo Brown – Photo credit: Yehuda Halickman

“Being in attack mode and playing our game and doing what coach says. Whatever he says is pretty much the correct thing, the guys have studied film and we know what to do and what not. So that’s the game plan for sure.”

However, as much as Maccabi will want to play basketball, Hapoel will be putting it all on the court and laying everything they have on the line to take home the championship with or without Baldwin playing for the opposition.

“We will see their roster and we are ready. We have one more morning practice and the guys played whoever they will list so we have clips and examples. It won’t bother us and we will adjust for sure. Plan A and Plan B but above all is the hustle that we have to show no matter what the roster. We have to make big plays that we missed in game one.”

Tyler Ennis – Photo credit: Yehuda Halickman

Hustle will be the key word in game three without a doubt as Tyler Ennis agreed with his coach, “Coach said just hustle and we played hard, if we lost we would have gone home and we played with that hunger and we expect them to come with the same hunger. There is a title on the line, so both teams will leave it out there and if we execute our game plan and hustle that will give ourselves a chance.”

“You win one game and you win the league. You come in with that at stake and you had a season of ups and downs and you want to come out with title. We go out and play our game and we will enjoy the atmosphere and opportunity that we have. If we started the year and it was said you can win the title with one game we would all take that especially in their house, we have no choice we have to go inter and win.”

Dedas’s crew really hurt Maccabi in game two as they committed 19 turnovers in the contest as Hapoel dictated the pace of play throughout the 40 minutes, but once again it was the desire, drive, will and hustle that helped his team defeat the yellow-and-blue after having fallen in the opening bout.

Stefanos Dedas – Photo Credit: Yehuda Halickman

“After we lost game one I talked to the guys and we knew what to do. One part was the adjustments and matchups and defenses but above all is the will and hustle that we saw in game two which forced them to make 19 turnovers. We also won the offensive rebound battle which was the first time Maccabi lost that even perhaps in the Euroleague.”

While Ennis arrived just about couple of months ago from Napoli and will most probably return to Italy and Venezia but for the time being he is looking at this as an opportunity to slip in and win a title.

“I haven’t been here for a long and it’s been awhile since they won the league so anytime you come and there is history to be made you want to be a part of that. There is a good groups of guys here and there have been a lot of ups and downs time and if I can come in and bring some happiness and bring a title here it’s great to have the opportunity to sneak in at the end and come out with a win.”

Oded Katash – Photo credit: Yehuda Halickman

Katash no doubt wants to take home the championship and end the season on a high note and perhaps end this round of the project that he started a couple of seasons ago on a high note, “We won’t summarize the season yet, we’ll see what happens, but there are things out of our control. We’re very proud of many things that we’ve done in two years, we’ve built something from scratch if we go back to what we started last year.”

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