Basketball supporters of Hapoel Jerusalem will never forget the evening of June 11, 2021. The team defeated Maccabi Tel Aviv in the State Cup final with a 67–61 under head coach Aleksandar Dzikic and captain Itay Segev. The game was an exciting exhibition that featured the best Israeli basketball had to offer.
One for all and all for one was the guiding principle behind Hapoel Jerusalem’s game plan, which was essential in their triumph over Maccabi Tel Aviv. Hapoel shot 45 percent from the field and 42 percent from beyond the arc compared to Maccabi’s 37 percent and 33 percent, respectively; in each statistical category, they outperformed Maccabi. Hapoel also committed nine fewer turnovers than Maccabi and outrebounded their opponents 38-35. (14-23).
Each team member played a crucial role in this victory, but Justin Smith and Kedrick Cornelius stood out as the squad’s on-court captains. Smith complimented Coach Dzikic’s leadership by making wise choices that led his squad to win. With his tenacious defense, Cornelius personified Dzikic’s tough-guy style of play, restricting Brown and Baldwin to just nine assists combined.
In the game on Thursday night, DiBartolomeo and Cohen didn’t even make it onto the court, and Maccabi Tel Aviv had a sluggish performance the entire time. In part because of some outstanding defense from Hapoel Jerusalem’s backcourt players Justin Smith and Kedrick Cornelius, head coach Motti Katash cut a furious figure as he saw his squad struggle to make their presence felt in the game.
With this victory, Hapoel Jerusalem has proven they can triumph in crucial situations, but they will need consistency to win additional championships. They needed to preserve these qualities to continue competing at this level in the coming seasons. Still, their physicality, resiliency, and desire were crucial components in their recipe for success on Thursday night.
Yet for now, Hapoel Jerusalem supporters may rejoice as they enjoy yet another item of silverware added to their collection. They had every right to be pleased with themselves for defeating one of Israel’s top teams despite lacking the opponents’ degree of high-level experience.