Maccabi Tel Aviv, inspired by its first State Cup final in 14 years, took a first half lead against Hapoel Rishon Letzion last night in Ra'anana's Metrowest Arena. However, Hapoel surged in the final 30 minutes to win 28-25 and claim its 13th championship and first since 2001.
Despite having a player sent off for a brutal foul, Maccabi took the lead just before halftime behind Itzik Halifi.
But Hapoel proved relentless down the stretch, overwhelming Maccabi's defense. "We thought it would come easy, but we were forced to work hard," said Hapoel coach Saar Frenkel after the victory.
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