Hapoel Tel Aviv ties basketball finals 1-1 in rowdy, historic beatdown of Maccabi

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Hapoel Tel Aviv beat Maccabi Tel Aviv 112-74 in the Israeli Basketball Premier League Final on Monday, tying the series at one game apiece and handing Maccabi its largest loss ever against an Israeli team.

The game began after a 45-minute delay due to fireworks that were ignited throughout Hapoel’s crowd at tipoff and Maccabi’s refusal to remove a plastic table placed too close to the scorer’s table.

The smoke reportedly caused Hapoel center Chinanu Onuaku to vomit in the locker room. The Maryland native asked the crowd via Twitter to cease using the pyrotechnics.

Hapoel jumped out to a 36-17 lead at the end of the first quarter, led by small forward Jordan McRae’s 17 points in the frame.

At the end of the first half, Maccabi guard Wade Baldwin provoked Hapoel power forward Tomer Ginat, instigating a bench-clearing altercation between the two teams near the seats of Maccabi’s crowd, allowing their fans to throw plastic cups and flag poles at Hapoel players.

Maccabi power forward Jake Cohen was hit by a drumstick, and both a member of Hapoel’s medical staff and the fiancée of Maccabi captain John DiBartolomeo were reportedly injured by items thrown at them.

While Maccabi was able to cut the lead to 14 midway through the third quarter, consecutive three-pointers by Hapoel’s Xavier Manford blew the game open, paving the way to a historic 38-point blowout, the biggest loss in Maccabi Tel Aviv’s history against an Israeli team.

Notably, Hapoel coach Danny Franco utilized power forward Jaylen Hoard as a point-of-attack defender, effectively neutralizing Maccabi’s star guard Lorenzo Brown, holding the leader of Spain’s Eurobasket victory last year to 4 points.

Manford led Hapoel in scoring with 26 points. Meanwhile, Baldwin contributed 18 points to Maccabi.

Tensions were high prior to the game following the events surrounding Maccabi’s 90-79 game 1 victory. Maccabi’s front office refused to allocate tickets for Hapoel’s fans and performed unprecedented security searches of Hapoel players prior to them entering the stadium.

In response, Hapoel refused to allow Maccabi chairman Shimon Mizrachi to enter via the player’s entrance, making the team’s manager of the last 54 years instead wait in line with fans.

Hapoel Tel Aviv fans set off fireworks during the team’s 112-74 victory over Maccabi Tel Aviv on June 11, 2023. (Noam Ofek/Hapoel Tel Aviv BC)

The series’ decisive third game will be played on Maccabi’s home court in Tel Aviv on Tuesday.

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