It’s good to be young: Maccabi Tel Aviv beats pesky Ashdod 104-100 in 2OT

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Maccabi Tel Aviv needed double-overtime to defeat Maccabi Ashdod 104-100 in the port city. Brad Greenberg’s squad gave the yellow-and-blue more than they could handle throughout the 50 minute contest but just came up short. Mark Tollefsen scored 31 points, Paul Stoll added 30 points and Lis Shoshi scored 25 points in the painful loss for Ashdod while Johnny O’Bryant led Maccabi with 20 points and John Dibartolomeo added 17 points in the victory.

Ashdod raced out to a 29-21 lead thanks to five 3-pointers by Paul Stoll and four triples by Tollefsen as the host’s went 9/14 from beyond the arc over the first ten minutes of action. Maccabi then began to chip away at the Ashdod lead as O’Bryant, Jake Cohen and Tarik Black led the way to take a 1-point, 43-42 advantage into halftime.

Stoll and Shoshi combined for 13 third quarter points but DiBartolomeo scored 9 points including a three at the end of the frame to give Maccabi a slim 63-61 lead after thirty minutes of action. Shoshi continued his fine play with 11 points while O’Bryant answered back with 10 points of his own in 4th quarter. However, Stoll hit a pair of free throws with 11.6 seconds left on the clock to send the game into overtime.

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After Shoshi had fouled out, Tom Maayan had a chance to win the game for Ashdod but missed both of his free throws with under ten seconds left in the first overtime as the contest went into a second extra period knotted up at 90-90. But Yovel Zoosman’s 4 points and assist to Angelo Caloiaro with 8 seconds remaining helped wrap up the four point victory

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3-Pointers
1) The last thing Maccabi Tel Aviv and Coach Ioannis Sfairopoulos needed was a tough game in Ashdod, and not only did he get a tough game he got not only one overtime period, but two! Not exactly what he had in mind before a crucial Euroleague clash at Baskonia in Spain on Thursday night. The Yellow & Blue have been having issues on the road this year and seem to make their lives more difficult than necessary, “We won the game and this is what is important. Reality is we played our 3rd game after five days and it’s not easy to handle to fatigue, however, the players handled it well. Compliments to Jake Cohen and Alex Tyus who were hurt and sick and participated in the game.”

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2) The game could have been won in regulation time and in fact Maccabi had a commanding 9 point lead late in the game. Curiously, Sfairopoulos put in Jeremy Pargo with a minute and change left in the game after he had been on the bench for the entire quarter and came in cold. I asked the coach about his decision to bring in Pargo at that moment, “We wanted one more ball handler to keep the pressure away. He is an important player and great player. We also did this at the end of the game without Jeremy.” I’m not sure that this was the the new move and no offense to Jeremy but it’s not easy to come into crunch time after being on the bench for quite a while.

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3) It’s good to be young I said to Yovel Zoosman. The phenom played over 37 minutes against Ashdod, 34+ minutes on Saturday night against Gilboa/Galil and 23+ against Panathinaikos on Thursday night. That’s a lot of minutes no matter how young you are. Zoosman spoke about the game and his time on the court, “They started the game well and hit many 3-pointers to begin the game. I’ll rest tomorrow. I have a lot to give and if not now, when? I’m still young and I can take more than some of the older players.” That’s all true and it’s good to be young but that’s a heavy load for any player.

Overtime
Ashdod coach Brad Greenberg was disappointed after falling in overtime. His squad put up more than an admirable fight but once the game headed into a second overtime and Lis Shoshi fouled out chances diminished for the short handed roster, “This one hurts. We played very hard with a short rotation. It’s a reflection of budget and the inability to sign national players that can get into games. Look at the 29 players on the national team and look what teams they are on. We don’t have a player and neither does Beer Sheva. We are less talented and are not as deep. Last year we were lucky with Travis Warech, Alex Chubrevich and Nimrod Levi. This is the chance we give to some of the players like Ido Flaischer, Jake Pemberton and Spencer Weisz.”

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And-1 And-Some
A) There’s no question that Ashdod left it all on the court and have played much better over the last number of games. Paul Stoll thinks that there’s no reason the team can’t compete with any other club in the country and bring the intensity it did against Maccabi Tel Aviv, “I think we can bring the intensity and we’ve played well the last 5 games. We had the mentality defensively we will be fine. We try to win every game. We work hard and have long practices. If we can play with Maccabi we can play against any team.”

B) Daniel Janel who was on the USA Maccabiah team has joined Ashdod after playing with Afula for a few games. His addition will mean that there are three Maccabiah players on the Ashdod as Janel joins Spencer Weisz and Jojo Fallas. The big man was signed as a practice player according to Greenberg, “We don’t have enough guys to practice so he was brought in as a practice player. We haven’t had ten guys for practice in months. We try to prepare for teams with 3 on 3 and 4 on 4. We have practiced so little over the past few days because I was afraid that another player would get hurt. He came to the gym looking for a spot and he was available and wanted to be part of it. I’m not expecting anything on the court and anything would be a bonus. Good guy.”