Hapoel Jerusalem Send Maccabi Tel Aviv Packing

With Josh Duncan dominating, Hapoel Jerusalem sends Men in Yellow to second straight OT loss.

Josh Duncan scored 20 points and big man Samardo Samuels had one of his best outings this season, as Hapoel Jerusalem averted a last-minute collapse and sent Maccabi to its second consecutive overtime defeat, 84-82.

Hapoel Jerusalem gave Maccabi Tel Aviv a surprisingly tough fight in Nokia Arena, taking a lead into the fourth quarter, rallying to tie at the end of regulation and then building a 10-point advantage in the extra period.

Save for the second quarter and a stretch toward the end of regulation, Maccabi looked out of practice and out of sync, as if it still had not recovered from the blow of being ousted from the Euroleague last month. Maccabi also lacked aggression, making just eight trips to the free-throw line in 45 minutes.

Samuels, who finished with 14 points and four rebounds, played a significant role in Maccabi’s downfall, shutting down the paint and forcing Maccabi into a perimeter game, where it hit 14 of 36 attempts from behind the arc.

Hapoel took the initiative in the early going, but after a three-pointer cut Jerusalem’s lead to 19-16 at the end of the first period, Maccabi opened the second quarter on fire, reeling off 14 of the period’s first 15 points. Hapoel recovered somewhat and cut Maccabi’s advantage to 36-32 by halftime.

Courtney Fells was Hapoel’s hero in the third quarter, sparking a 10-0 run that put the lead back in Hapoel’s hands.

Maccabi regained the upper hand midway through the fourth quarter but could not shake off Hapoel. While Maccabi played smothering defense down the stretch, getting back into position on transition, it kept missing baskets on offense. Down two on Jerusalem’s final possession, Meir Tapiro found Duncan on the inbound pass on the far side, and Duncan nailed the three-pointer from the back right of Maccabi’s halfcourt to tie the game.

Maccabi then fell apart in overtime and found itself down 83-73 before furiously reeling off a trio of three pointers in the final minute, the last one by Devin Smith after he stole the ball from Raviv Limonad at midcourt, cutting Jerusalem’s lead to just one point with 26.4 seconds left.

Yogev Ohayon fouled out with 18.0 seconds to go, sending Tapiro to the free-throw line. Tapiro missed the front end but converted the second, and Maccabi failed to score, leaving Hapoel fans to celebrate.

Nir Keidar