Maccabi knocks out Hapoel in the fourth quarter, wins 57th championship

By Eurohoops Team/

In a crazy contest to finish the Ligat Winner Playoffs, Maccabi Playtika Tel Aviv pulled away in the fourth quarter to beat Hapoel Shlomo Tel Aviv, 82-74, and edge out the best-of-three series, 2-1, in Menora Mivtachim Arena on Monday.

A 9-0 run, including seven straight points to open the fourth quarter, allowed Maccabi to regain control en route to the 57th domestic league championship in team history. Cuban import Jasiel Rivero was the key player over the last ten minutes, ending up with 16 points behind 7/8 from the field and eight rebounds. The season MVP in Israel, Roman Sorkin drew a game-high 19 points and grabbed nine rebounds. Lorenzo Brown and Josh Nebo added 12 points apiece.

Defending the Israeli championship, the Yellows overcame a slow start with a 7-0 sprint to tie the game late in the first quarter. Eleven unanswered points to start the second period generated the first lead. The visitors bounced back in the third quarter and went up by a margin of six points, but settled for a one-point lead, 55-54, entering the last quarter.

On the injury list for most of the last two months, Wade Baldwin IV (hamstring) was in the starting lineup for head coach Oded Kattash but was held to five points with 1/6 field goals over 17 minutes. In contrast, Joe Thomasson joined Antonius Cleveland, and James Webb III on the sidelines.

For the losing side, Tyler Ennis recorded a team-high 17 points. Tomer Ginat had 15 points but exited with an apparent injury in his right calf with 32 seconds left in the fourth period. John Holland, Isaiah Miles, and J’Covan Brown remained out for the Reds.

Incidents inside and outside the arena

Similar to Game 2, the start of Game 3 was delayed. Fans of the visitors colliding with police outside the gym led to several arrests. Waiting for supporters to enter the arena, Hapoel initially refused to get on the court and warm up, forcing multiple league decisions to push back the tipoff. The championship-crowning contest was eventually underway with a delay lasting over 30 minutes.

With 8:32 remaining in the third quarter, the winner-takes-all affair was suspended for several minutes. Supporters of the visitors light up flares, causing smoke to dominate the arena. Flares were also thrown toward the floor.

With 1:58 left in the third period, the referees stopped action once more. An item thrown by Maccabi fans on the bench of the team coached by Stefanos Dedas forced the interruption.

Ligat Winner Playoffs

Quarterfinals (best-of-five)

Maccabi Playtika Tel Aviv – Ironi Hai Motors Ness Ziona 3-0 (109-83, 99-66, 105-64)
Hapoel Bank Yahav Jerusalem – Hapoel Netanel Group Holon 3-0 (93-86, 70-68, 93-75)
Hapoel Shlomo Tel Aviv – Hapoel Shoval Haifa 3-0 (97-66, 100-91, 83-65)
Maccabi Ironi Ramat Gan – Ironi Kiryat Lati Ata 0-3 (94-95, 84-94, 72-74)

Semifinals (best-of-three)

Maccabi Playtika Tel Aviv – Hapoel Bank Yahav Jerusalem 2-0 (89-82, 82-73)
Hapoel Shlomo Tel Aviv – Ironi Kiryat Lati Ata 2-1 (79-82, 70-62, 100-83)

Finals (best-of-three)

Maccabi Playtika Tel Aviv – Hapoel Shlomo Tel Aviv 2-1 (84-76, 67-85, 82-74)

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