Maccabi Tel Aviv blew away Bnei Herzliya 87-73 in Game One of their best of 5 Quarterfinals series thanks to a monster shooting performance by Andrew Goudelock scoring 21 points while high energy play from Joe Alexander who finished the night with 11 points helped the Yellow & Blue to the win.
Not only did the victory mark the first time this campaign Maccabi had defeated Herzliya after falling to Mickey Gorka’s team three times in the regular season but it also gave Arik Shivek his first win as the Yellow & Blue Head Coach. Alexander and Rudd combined for 15 first quarter points as Maccabi took a 28-23 lead after the first frame. The second quarter saw the hosts extend their lead to 50-43 as Goudelock finished the half with 10 points while DJ Sharp kept Bnei Herzliya in the contest with 11 points of his own.
However, a 30-14 Maccabi 3rd quarter sealed Herzliya’s fate as Quincy Miller & Goudelock combined for 17 points coming out of the half, essentially making the 4th quarter garbage time galore as the Yellow & Blue took the first game by a 14 point margin, 87-73.
1) Maccabi came out of the gate playing a very high tempo game with the guards pressing Herzliya at every opportunity early on. Joe Alexander contributed to the fine performance in the first frame as the big man dropped 9 points from inside the paint and beyond the arc to set the tone for the Yellow & Blue. Coach Shivek spoke about Alexander as a player that he’s never played against him, didn’t even know him and how pleasantly surprised he was with his effort and all around play from rebounds, defense, offense, work rate, practices hard and gives extra. Number 23 offers a tremendous amount to the team and gives them options that many players don’t, what Shivek was able to do was get the best out of Joe and he’ll certainly want to keep him going for the rest of the playoffs.
2) Quincy Miller was another surprise package scoring 14 points and featuring in the Yellow & Blue Starting 5. Shivek also addressed Miller’s play saying that he had given him a private personal challenge that he wouldn’t go into details about, but it was something between him and the player himself. The challenge certainly brought the best out of Miller who sports one of the widest wing spans in basketball and played fantastic defense. If Maccabi is to succeed in this series and get to the final four, they’ll need all hands on deck. They can cross out win number 1 of 5 with only 4 games to go.
3) Herzliya coach Mickey Gorka wasn’t able to continue his winning streak over Maccabi and fell due to receiving subpar performances from Jeff Adrien (8pts), Halil Kanecevic 4pts) and Tauren Green (3pts) leading to the loss. Gorka spoke about how Maccabi forced them to play small and couldn’t get the most out of their big men which was certainly true but also said that he would have to find a way to adjust for game two next week. The one place he won’t have an answer is for Andrew Goudelock if Tom Mayaan doesn’t come back and he stated that clearly at the press conference. He also spoke about Karam Mashour who did record a Double-Double with 13 points and 10 rebounds but it was as quiet as could be as he was coming back from injury. Gorka was pleased that he played over 30 minutes and expects the top Israeli player from this past campaign to perform even better next Sunday night.
Itay Segev had a wonderful showing scoring 8 points and grabbing 7 boards in 18+ minutes of play. The youngster also provided some high tempo and energy when he hit the court and arguably played his best game showing a ton of confidence. Shivek gave time to almost all of his squad and will need solid play from everyone to take this team to the promised land. The wily veteran coach is possibly the best man for this job coming in just before the playoffs begin and looking for a way to bring Maccabi back to its former glory. Will he be able to win back to back titles as a coach? Will he hit the finals for a third straight season? We will find out soon, but if he continues to press the right buttons which he certainly did in game one, the sky’s the limit. But I must leave you with one caveat; Ainars Bagatskis won his first game as Maccabi coach and did so against Arik Shivek at Rishon Le’Zion. How will the Yellow & Blue come out for game two? That chapter will be written next Sunday night in Herzliya.
In other Playoff Action:
Hapoel Eilat 93-83 Rishon Le’Zion
Hapoel Eilat opened the best of five series with a comfortable win over Rishon Le’Zion. Pierria Henry had 25 points and 10 rebounds, while Landon Milbourne scored 14 points for Hapoel Eilat. J.J Moore scored 19 points, while Shawn Dawson finished with 18 points for Rishon Le’Zion.
Hapoel Holon 104-99 Maccabi Haifa
In a double overtime thriller, the number one ranked team Hapoel Holon beat Maccabi Haifa in a super close matchup at home. Tu Holloway scored 34 points, while Darion Atkins finished with 18 points for Holon. Amit Simhon scored 22 points, while John Dibartholomeo finished with 19 points for a spirited Maccabi Haifa.