Hapoel Jerusalem is the new champions of Basketball in Israel. The team defeated Maccabi Haifa 83-76 to win the grand final. This victory marks just the second time in the history of Hapoel Jerusalem that the club has won the league, following the trophy success in 2015.
Jerusalem has taken the league title in two of the last three seasons, but more interestingly, we are seeing a seismic shift in the Israeli Basketball landscape. Gone are the days of Maccabi Tel Aviv dominated the league. Indeed, the multiple EuroLeague winner has not won the Israeli league in three seasons and has claimed just three of the last eight seasons.
To put this unprecedented turn of events into perspective, during the previous 56 years, Maccabi Tel Aviv won 48 titles. What Hapoel Jerusalem and other clubs are doing is creating competition that has never been seen before in Israeli hoops. Naturally, the Tel Aviv giant is in the mix, but this is a bold new era.
In the finale this season, Maccabi Haifa made the early progress and led by six points after 10 minutes thanks to an 18-24 frame. In the second period, Jerusalem started to click in offence and used a huge 24-11 run to carve a 42-35 advantage through the third act. On the up, Hapoel used its momentum to kill the game in the third act. A big scoring 28-27 frame allowed the team to extend its lead through thirty minutes, before holding firm in the closing quarter.
Jerome Dyson was huge in the win, scoring 30 points and adding 6 rebounds and 5 assists. Curtis Jerrells followed with 21 points, while Tarence Kinsey dropped 19 points.
Gregory Vargas matched Dyson’s 30 points to pace the losing effort. Orlando Mendez-Valdez secured 14 points for Haifa and Kevinn Pinkney hit 13 points.