To highlight this is a season to forget, Israeli heavyweight Maccabi Tel Aviv has crashed out of the running for the Winner League title. The club was defeated at home by Maccabi Rishon in a shock defeat, a victory that will be among the most famed in Rishon’s history.
The result means Maccabi Tel Aviv leaves the title chase at the semi-final stage, while Rishon advances to the showpiece event to face Hapoel Jerusalem. Rishon’s win was such a shock that the club is now in a title game to win its first ever league crown. Hapoel Jerusalem can now win back to back titles, something that has never happened in Israeli hoops to any team other than Maccabi Tel Aviv.
Maccabi Tel Aviv not contesting an Israeli league final is really massive news and a huge upset. Through the 61 years of the league’s history, the club has won 51 league titles, a dominant run that makes the club comfortably the winningest in the country. To put this defeat into perspective, this is only the third time in history that team has not contested the final, and the first time in 23 years.
Of course, this has generally been a season to forget for Maccabi Tel Aviv. The team crashed out of the Euroleague in embarrassing fashion and was then humbled in the Eurocup, a competition the club would have been expected to win. Yes, the Tel Aviv giant will be back, but this is certainly a rebuilding period that is taking longer than many had imagined.
Nothing should be taken away from Maccabi Rishon though, the team was excellent in the second half of the semi-final, rally in the fourth quarter to steal the game under incredibly tense circumstances. The underdogs worked tirelessly off the glass, grabbing 40 rebounds to Tel Aviv’s 26, while grabbing 17 offensive boards to the hosts’ 5.
Maccabi Tel Aviv secured the first quarter with a 16-14 score, but it was clear that this was going to be a long night for the Euroleague giant. The scoring picked up in the second frame and the teams went basket for basket heading into the halftime buzzer. A 20-20 second quarter meant Tel Aviv maintained its 2 point advantage through the long break, 36-34.
The team continued to trade baskets in the third act, with both draining 21 points to keep the deficit the same through thirty minutes, the scoreboard reading 67-65. The fourth quarter was the turning point as Maccabi Rishon found strength to rally late on and hold out in the closing seconds for a famous win.
Darryl Monroe set the tone for the hosts with 20 points, 8 rebounds, and 3 assists, while Marky Lyons added 19 points and 6 boards. Chris Wright helped the scoring momentum with 15 points of his own.
Taylor Rochestie paced Maccabi Tel Aviv with 20 points, followed by Yogev Ohayon with 15 points.