The buildup was immense, considering that the outcome was never in doubt, and indeed Maccabi Tel Aviv easily brushed off its long-time nemesis Hapoel 91-72. Still, the score was never really the true story of the Tel Aviv derby, the first in six years. Hapoel Ussishkin Tel Aviv, a club that had its home court demolished and rose from the ashes with a model of fan ownership, finally returned to the top-tier league to face the eternal champions.
The gap between the two teams was evident from the get-go, Maccabi running off to a 9-2 lead before three minutes had passed. Maccabi coach David Blatt, pulled Devin Smith off the court, and Hapoel, which had a series of turnovers and missed shots in the early moments, clawed back into the game, but Maccabi managed to end the first quarter on a high, with a 21-19 lead.
Hapoel coach Erez Edelstein asked his team to "cut down the silly fouls," and his team did just that, but Hapoel's bench offered little on the offensive end and Maccabi ran to 50-41 at half-time, mostly thanks to Yogev Ohayon, who finished the game with 12 points.
Maccabi began the third quarter with a 9-2 run, on their way to a 16-point lead. Demontez Stitt did his best to keep Hapoel alive, with 20 points, but Lior Eliyahu, netting 20 points as well, never allowed Hapoel to get back into it. Hapoel's bench contributed its first points after 28 minutes, reflecting the huge gap between the teams.
The game lost its competitiveness in the last quarter, with Maccabi opening a 20-point lead, and most of the action at this point was the banter between the two sets of fans, which, fortunately, did not spill over into serious violence. Maccabi fans thoroughly enjoyed the last quarter, and eventually celebrated a thumping victory.
Elsewhere in the Super League, Hapoel Jerusalem tried to get back to their winning ways in Rishon Letzion. Neither team managed to hold onto a lead, but Josh Duncan took control of the game with 24 points, breaking the deadlock on the way to a 86-61 win, a huge relief after two losses - in the league to Ashkelon and in the Eurocup to BC Kiev.
Another close game was played in Holon, which hosted Ashkelon. Holon held a slight lead in the the third quarter, but Ashkelon equalized and a pair of three-pointers by Dudu Shamriz gave them the lead in the fourth quarter on the way to a 93-88 win.
Gilboa/Galil won its second consecutive game after losing the first six of the season. Maccabi Ashdod was still around at half-time, trailing by only three, but Gilboa/Galil dominated 24-12 in the third quarter and never looked back, winning 90-70.
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