Maccabi Haifa and Hapoel Jerusalem heated up PAIS arena with an intense battle on a stormy Sunday night in Jerusalem. The Greens from the Carmel seem to enjoy playing at the new arena, as they out-muscled the Reds from Jerusalem in a 82-72 win, handing Hapoel their first home loss of the Winner League season.
Chanan Colman played outstanding and was named MVP on 19 points on 6-of-10 from the field (5-of-5 from the line) and 5 assists, while Reggie Buckner did serious damage in the paint, registering his second double-double of the season on 15 points and 10 rebounds.
“We are playing tough and aggressive and it doesn’t matter against who, today it was Jerusalem,” Colman said. “I think that Buckner is hard for them, but they are a great team and each team has a hard time against us. I think it’s a statement to win against them again here, and no one thought we will do it at the beginning of the season, but Rami makes us believers and we are practicing hard just for this.”
“I feel like we are pushing forward and progressing and I take my hat off for the players. Our style is always pressing the ball, we also adjusted to their game. In the third quarter we played great, but the ball didn’t find the rim and it’s ok, as long as we are in the system. For me it’s important that we kept our style in the second quarter, because it wasn’t the case in the first one.”
Maccabi Haifa’s floor leader Gregory Vargas soared with 11 points, 8 rebounds and 7 assists, and Will Graves buried several crucial attempts from three-point land on 11 points (3-of-5 from downtown). Haifa shot 36 percent from beyond the arc, while the Greens’ defense held Jerusalem to a mere 27 percent from downtown. The Greens’ defense was relentless all night as they recorded 17 steals (6 by Rene Rougeau), and forced 22 turnovers by Jerusalem.
The Greens clicked from the tip-off as Graves had the shooting touch early from beyond the arc and Vargas was able to find the rim as Haifa jumped out to a 15-7 lead midway through the first quarter. Captain Colman extended Haifa’s advantage to 19-12 after burying a trey, but Hapoel battle back to tighten the score at 27-26 in favor of Haifa at the end of the quarter.
Hapoel grabbed a quick lead to start the second quarter, but a Oz Blayzer reclaimed Haifa’s advantage. The Greens’ trapping defense affected Jerusalem as Haifa was able to convert their defense into offense. With Haifa up 34-32, the Greens went on a 8-0 run with two consecutive buckets in the paint from Buckner and a basket from Colman put Haifa up by double digits, 42-32. Haifa went into the halftime break leading Jerusalem, 50-43.
In the third quarter, Jerusalem came out with more energy as they ensued on a 7-0 run to knot the score at 50. Rougeau broke up the Haifa scoring drought with a jumper to put Haifa back up by two. The Greens struggled to find their offensive rhythm as they managed to score only 10 points in the quarter. To make matters worse, Buckner picked up his fourth foul of the game and was sent to the bench. EJ Rowland scored his 14th point at the buzzer to bring Hapoel within 60-59 at the close of the quarter.
Jerusalem’s Josh Duncan gave the home team a brief lead, but a beautiful assist from DiBartolomeo to Chubrevich, who finished with a layup, put Haifa back on top. Two huge 3-pointers by Colman and DiBartolomeo gave a Haifa a 69-64 advantage at the 4:59 mark of the fourth. Haifa capitalized on a steal which led to a fast-break bucket by Colman on a Vargas assist. Buckner dominated in the paint to put Haifa up by double-figures as the Greens would eventually seal their 11th victory of the season with a 82-72 win over Hapoel Jerusalem.