Maccabi Tel Aviv and Hapoel Jerusalem playing low level despite impressive rosters

 

At the beginning of the season, it seemed that Maccabi Tel Aviv and Hapoel Jerusalem won’t have any difficulties in reaching The Finals of Israel’s Basketball League! But Monday’s night Final Four proved that theory wrong. Maccabi managed to beat their opponents, but in a very tough way, while Hapoel Jerusalem was eliminated by a much weaker opponent. Let’s see how some facts about those games.

Maccabi Tel Aviv managed to win the regular season with a 27-6 record. They passed easily over 8th seed Hapoel Tel-Aviv with 3-0 in quarter-finals. But in the semifinals, they had a harder game than they thought. They beat 4th seed Hapoel Eilat, a team without any notable players, only 2-point difference, 85-83. Despite grabbing the win and securing a place in the finals, this result can be easily seen as a disappointing one. We’re talking about a Euroleague team with “high-level” players like Scottie Wilbekin, Michael Roll, Tarik Black or DeAndre Kane. They should win this game by at least a double-digit difference.

Maccabi had a big rotation, giving at least 11 minutes to 10 different players. In comparison, for Eilat, there were only 8 players, the 8th player with only 9 minutes in the court! That Maccabi rotation should have been enough but they played actually very anaemic. The best scorers for Maccabi were Wilbekin (21 points, 5 rebounds and 4 assists), O’Bryant (15 points) and Roll (12 points and 5 assists). For Eilat, the main contributors were JP Tokoto (22 points and 4 rebounds) and Suleiman Braimoh (16 points and 7 rebounds)

Now let’s take a look at Hapoel Jerusalem. They were regarded as the only real team that can put any problems to giants Maccabi Tel-Aviv. They reached the Quarter Finals of Basketball Champions League, but they were eliminated by the more serious team from Tenerife. So all the attention transfer towards the domestic league, but without any success. They were eliminated in the Final Four by Maccabi Rishon, the 6th seed in the regular season, a team that didn’t have any chance before this duel. But guess what? They beat Hapoel Jerusalem and advanced in a huge final against Maccabi Tel-Aviv. Let’s see the stats on this game.

Maccabi Rishon won in all statistical fields: 21-15 in assists, 42-37 in rebounds, better shooting percentages and the most important thing, won the game 92-86. Jerusalem started the game well, having a decent lead at the half-time 50-47. But in the second half, they were not able to maintain their high level of play and lost it 45-36. Speaking about rotation for  Hapoel there were 10 players with a minimum 9 minutes played, but for Rishon, there were only 8 players in rotation with the last player receiving only 4 minutes on the court.

The main reason for this result is Rishon’s, Diamon Simpson. In 29 minutes he managed to score 28 points and grabbed 20 rebounds! Other contributors for Rishon were Cameron Long (19 points and 4 assists) and Nimrod Tishman (16 points and 7 assists)

This two games surprised the fans and the basketball specialists all over the world. Maccabi will continue their season, and I’m pretty sure they will win against Rishon in the final, but for Hapoel Jerusalem, this season can be seen as a disappointing one. They did not win anything, despite having good players, including former NBA star Amar’e Stoudemire. They need to rethink their strategy, in order to become a big team!

Bogdan Vasile Tirc

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