Maccabi Tel Aviv defeated Maccabi Haifa 80-71 after coming back from a 12-point deficit midway through the third quarter. The Yellow & Blue was able to weather a 20-0 run by the Greens thanks to inspired play by Israelis Itay Segev (12p/8r) and Karam Mashour (8p/7r). DeAndre Kane continued to show his strength as an all-round player with 12 points, 8 assists and 6 rebounds. Angel Rodriguez (19p) and Reginald Buckner (15p) led Haifa’s efforts for Ofer Rahimi’s side.
1) The stars of the show for Maccabi were two of the most embattled players on the team, Itay Segev and Karam Mashour. The pair have played sparingly all year but when they were called upon by coach Neven Spahjia, they were there for their team. It took them a few minutes to find they confidence and get into a rhythm but once they did, they played lock down defense and helped out on the offense. The Yellow & Blue Head Coach handed out the compliments, “Karam and Itay were the key for tonight’s win. Especially after the 20 point run Haifa had. To come back makes this win bigger. Supporting each other is in our DNA for the rest of the season.” DeAndre Kane also commented on their play, “Those guys have helped us a lot. Itay has really improved. We need all of our guys on the team.”
2) Segev couldn’t hide his excitement and joy after being awarded the game’s MVP especially following such a tough season that saw him ask to leave the team while also being stripped of the captaincy. His smile was contagious when he walked up to the podium for the past game press conference as well and when asked about his performance, he just kept repeating himself over and again, even using the terms “copy paste”, “I know how to play, I’m happy to play and happy with the win.”
3) Although Segev may have won the MVP, it was DeAndre Kane who played yet another all-star game for Maccabi. The guard continues to gain confidence game in and game out while performing on both sides of the court, “It was a good team win and we fought and played aggressive. We have enough athleticism to get easy points and we regained the lead in the 4th quarter and won the game.” When asked about playing an MVP role with the team, the guard shied away, “MVP for me is winning games and I just try to help the team win.”
John DiBartolomeo was out injured and did not play in the game, but hopefully he will be back soon and Spahija is definitely not only counting on the guard but will need him as healthy as possible, “We don’t want to force John to play as we want him to be 100% healthy because the Russian rule as well.” Again the Russian Rule of 2 Israelis always having to be on the court creeps up its head just a couple of days after Maccabi Tel Aviv announced that they will have two separate teams, one for European play and one for the domestic league. As they say, to should be interesting.
One last thing
I like Haifa coach Ofer Rahimi and he’s in trouble. His team couldn’t hold onto a 12-point lead midway through the 3rd quarter and with owner Jeff Rosen in the house, I’d be concerned. “We are disappointed with the loss and we need to start to win again as we want to improve,” the Greens coach said. The team just signed Trahson Burrell who had last played in the G-League and I asked Rahimi his thoughts on his debut performance and where he sees him fitting in with the squad going forward, “Trahson played today 6 minutes today so it’s hard to say yet. We’ve had 2 and half practices since his arrival, so he has not yet integrated into our system. With time he will be able to help us more and more.” I also added one of the Haifa players about how Burrell will be able to help and he told me that he’s happy he’s here but that there are already so many other players at the same position and he’s not sure how he will fit in. As they say, we shall see.