Tel Aviv continued its dominance over the league with a tight win over Haifa on Monday night in their Menora Mivtachim Arena. Haifa took advantage of a struggling Jeremy Pargo (5 points, 0/4 3pt) and started off hot earning an exciting 19-point lead early into the second quarter. Ike Oefogbu led his team playing relentlessly off the bench, attacking the basket and playing physical defense, finally ending with a monstrous double-double amassing 20 points and 12 rebounds (9 offensive). However, with the rest of Oefogbu’s team struggling to find their rhythm, Devin Smith (21 points, 8 rebounds, 8/8 FT) and Alex Tyus (15 points, 10 rebounds) led Maccabi’s comeback with a couple of big threes and a crowd-erupting alley oop slam to close the half down by a mere 5 points. The game stayed even with constant lead changes until Maccabi T.A. finally showed just how “electrifying” they can be taking the fourth 24-13 and showing us why they belong on the top of the standings at an outstanding 17-2.
Bnei Herzeliya took the game in extraordinary fashion shooting 52 percent from beyond the arc and six of its players putting up double digits. Winning the first quarter by a whopping 15 points, 24-9, HC Mickey Gorka’s squad never had to look back ending the first half with an even larger 21-point lead and finally closing out the game with a 23-point difference. Josh Selby led all scorers with 23 points while Yuval Naimi contributed a helpful double-double with 16 points and 10 assists. Oded Brandwein and Itay Segev led Gilboa/Galil with 19 points and 4 rebounds and 12 points and 8 rebounds, respectively. Unfortunately for the home team, it was all to no avail as they could not find a way to slow Herzeliya at any point of the 40 minutes.
Holon escaped Eilat with a narrow victory Monday night with a game winning 3-pointer from Jordan Taylor (17 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists) with 14 seconds left in the game. Eilat had one final chance to take the game but missed the shot and were forced to foul with 0.6 seconds left ending the game with a failed comeback. Eilat started strong with Kevin Palmer going 5 for 6 from beyond the arc leading all scorers with 22 points and 9 rebounds. Khalif Wyatt put in 15 for Eilat while Elishay Kadir and Adrian Uter each added an extra 14. Kadir also finished with 10 assists to give his team their only double-double and Eilat ended the first half up by 8. However, Hapoel Holon’s HC, Elad Hasin, inspired his team at the half to take the third 35-19 and fight off Eilat’s fourth quarter attempted comeback with a barrage of threes, hitting 56 percent as a team, and aggressive attacks to the rim. Sean Evans, Dominic McGuire, Tony Crocker, and Isaac Rosefelt also contributed double digits for Holon scoring 17, 15, 14, and 13 points, respectively. While Holon continues its march up the standings sitting tight in third behind Maccabi Tel Aviv and Hapoel Jerusalem, Eilat falls under .500 dropping to seventh.
An exciting comeback by Nes Ziona in the third made what appeared to be a blowout, an interesting game. Naharia closed out the first half up twelve with magnificent performances by Mark Lyons (23 points, 9 assists, 8/8 FT), John Williamson (21 points, 7 rebounds), and Robert Rothbart (14 points, 11 rebounds, 2 blocks) leading the way. Albeit Kenny Lawson’s stuggles, Frank Robinson and Eyal Shulman each were able to put in 11 more for their team. However, Nes Ziona came back in the third, with Craig Smith leading all scorers with 27, winning by 10 and closing the deficit to a dismal 2 points. Preston Knowles put in another 20 and Lamayn Wilson added 17 more while grabbing 8 rebounds. Nevertheless, with the rest of Nes Ziona’s squad combing for a lousy 22 points, they stood no chance in the end to overcome the home team and their wild crowd.
In Jerusalem on Sunday night, an exciting first half between two of the league’s better teams was eventually subdued by an expected second. Hapoel Jerusalem started the game by taking the first quarter with a small but not insignificant 6-point lead. However, Maccabi quickly responded taking the second by 12 with help from Jeremis Smith, who put up the only double-double of the game with 17 points and 10 rebounds, and Shawn Dowson who led all scorers with 20, and giving themselves the lead at the break. Hapoel responded strongly and efficiently in the second half outscoring their opponent 45-30 and eventually winning the game by nine. Tony Gaffney starred coming off the bench producing 11 points, 8 rebounds, and 3 blocks. Lior Eliyahu put in 19 points and 8 boards and Donta Smith poured in an extra 15 while grabbing 9 off the glass as well. While both teams shot incredibly similar numbers going 54 (Hapoel) and 51 (Maccabi) percent from 2-point range, 40 and 39 from three, and 52 from the stripe, eventually Hapoel was able to make the win and hold their position at number two in the league for the time being.
A thriller in Tel Aviv eventually ended with the home fans walking with their heads held low as Ashdod beat Hapoel Tel Aviv in overtime. SCE Ashdod started the game strong with a 12-point lead at the end of the first. However, Maccabi quietly clawed their way back throughout the game eventually tying it up with less than a minute to go. With 17 seconds to go in regulation and up by one, Hapoel gave up an open three, giving SCE Ashdod the lead again 86-84. Hapoel responded with a quick two and blocking SCE’s last second drive to send the game to overtime. In overtime, Ashdod fought their hearts out and won by five. Hapoel’s Raviv Guy Limonad and Maccabi’s James Nunally headlined the scoring table putting up 25 a piece. Limonad also accumulated 10 assists giving him the only double-double of the game. Durand Scott also helped at the attempted comeback by putting up 22 points and snatching 9 rebounds while three other Hapoel players also produced double digit games. Yehu Orland put up 24 for Maccabi while the rest of their starters each added double digits too. With the win, Maccabi Ashdod falls to the bottom of the totem pole of the league while Hapoel remains at number four.