By Allson Sinai

It may only be a pre-season game, but Hapoel Jerusalem made a strong statement on Saturday night, outplaying Maccabi Tel Aviv in a 77-62 win in the final of the Winner Cup at Ein Sara Arena in Nahariya.Maccabi had looked more impressive in the lead-up to the final, registering wins over Euroleague powerhouses Barcelona and Panathinaikos while thrashing Ironi Nahairya by 30 points in the Winner Cup semis on Thursday.

However, its losing streak against Jerusalem reached five games over all competitions on Saturday, with Hapoel establishing a double-digit gap in the third quarter and never looking back.

Jerusalem will be hoping Saturday’s win proves to be a sign of things to come, with the team going on to claim a historic BSL championship in 2014/15 following the last time it took the pre-season cup.Maccabi and Jerusalem met only in the BSL regular season in 2015/16, with Hapoel winning all three clashes. Their last meeting in a final came in the State Cup in 2015.The teams also played in the Winner Cup final in 2014 and 2015, with Maccabi winning the first and Jerusalem the second.Both teams have undergone dramatic changes since, including this past summer when both clubs replaced their coaching staffs as well as the majority of their players.

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