After three long years without a title, Hapoel Jerusalem woke up this morning (Friday) to a new reality as the holder of the State Cup for the 2023/23 season, after beating Maccabi Tel Aviv 61:67 at Hafis Arena and lifting the seventh cup in its history.
The outburst of joy and tears of happiness of the fans in the stands and the players on the floor, was hard to miss.
Aleksandar Džikić's apprentices went through a difficult season with ups and downs but knew how to excel at the moment of truth, dominated the final game without question and won the rightfully desired title.
Oz Blazer with the trophy, yesterday at the Arena, photo: Alan Shiver
The spontaneous celebrations on the field and in the dressing room moved from here to a restaurant in the local Mahane Yehuda market, where the players danced and celebrated with the fans until the wee hours of the night, not before the team bus was surrounded by dozens of happy fans who celebrated with their heroes and accompanied the bus on its way out of the field.
Seconds after the trophy was lifted, the inspectors of the Agency for the Prevention of Doping in Sports took Noam Yaakov for a random drug test, who made the people of Jerusalem laugh a little but did not harm the joyous celebrations.
Hapoel Jerusalem lifts the State Cup, photo: Alan Shiver
"It's an amazing feeling, we proved that we are capable of being the best team in Israel and we all believe in it. We show up for the big games and win through our defense. For me personally it's special because I haven't won a title in Israel yet," Zach Hankins shared at the end.
The center who became the key player for the Reds this season also referred to his future.
"I like it here, I like the club, the people and the coach and the people. We'll see what happens next."
Or Cornelius shared his feelings at the end: "All my relatives know how much I worked to get to these places.
I invested a lot and sacrificed a lot.
It's an amazing club, I want to kiss everyone here, I'm happy, I'm addicted to the people here, I love everyone.
The coach gave me a role from the beginning of the season.
I have a bit of a mess, but I'm glad I manage to be here.
Everyone does their job."
The Hapoel Jerusalem players are crazy, photo: Alan Shiver
Despite the joy in the club and the players also made sure to mention that this is only the first title of the season and they do not intend to stop there.
"We have an important game at home against Hapoel Holon, the season is still long and I want to win the title both in Europe and in the championship in Israel," concluded Speedy Smith who was chosen as the outstanding player of the final with 16 points and 9 assists.
The one who will not take part in the match against the champion is the forward Sim Sander Vane, who took off on vacation at home and will be absent from the game.
Itai Segev winning the cup, photo: Alan Shiver
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