Maccabi Tel Aviv defeated Hapoel Gilboa/Galil 88-70 at Yad Eliyahu as the Yellow & Blue remained at the top of the league standings. Alex Tyus led the way for Coach Ioannis Sfairpoulos’s squad with 16 points while Johnny O’Bryant dropped 11 points and pulled down 12 rebounds and Jeremy Pargo chipped in with 11 points as well. Ian Miller scored 21 points, Greg Whittington added 15 points and James Kelly scored 14 points for Ariel Beit Halachmi’s Galilee side.
Tyus went to work early for Maccabi with 6 points while Kelly for Gilboa dropped 8 points as the Yellow & Blue took an early 19-16 lead after ten minutes of action. Coach Sfairpoulos’s squad began the second quarter with a 14-4 run to go up 33-20 midway through the frame as Tyus continued to shine in the paint. Miller tried to keep the visitor’s close but Maccabi held an12-point 43-31 lead at halftime.
Pargo drilled back to back deep triples but Whittington began to show his wares as Coach Beit Halachmi’s charges pulled to within just 7 points, 53-46 with five minutes remaining in the third quarter. Gilboa cut the lead further but a Kane triple and a Bryant Crawford unsportsmanlike foul sent DiBartolomeo to the free throw line where he helped Maccabi head into the final frame with a 66-56 advantage.
Jake Cohen, DeAndre Kane and O’Bryant all scored buckets to extend the Yellow & Blue lead to 75-61 midway through the 4th quarter. Maccabi continued their onslaught of offense over the final five minutes of the contest as they recorded a 88-70 victory.
1) Bryant Crawford was the game changer for Gilboa/Galil and unfortunately it was for the bad as he not only allowed Kane hit a crucial 3-pointer but he then committed a flagrant foul on John DiBartolomeo that resulted in four free throws which changed the entire complexion of the game. Beit Halachmi’s squad chipped away, pulled to within just 3 points of Maccabi and it looked like they would even take the lead. But with the score 57-54 and with 1:29 left in the frame, Kane hit a triple over Crawford and then he committed a flagrant foul with 59 seconds remaining in the frame. Instead of being down just by 3, the lead increased to 66-56 and for all intents and purposes ended the game. Beit Halachmi spoke about the critical moments of the game, “The two plays really hurt us on Kane’s three at the end of the clock and the foul on DiBartolomeo. It’s too bad because it changed the momentum and it happened near the end of the quarter. We could have been down 4-6 points and it would have been like a new game but instead it ended up being ten and that was that.
2) John DiBartolomeo who was fouled on the decisive play talked about how it all went down, “I was just trying to stay aggressive and make a play. I got a step on him and he did what he could to try to get back in front. I was trying to stay aggressive and pick my moments where I could make plays. Coach Sfairpoulos complimented his team as to how they took advantage of being in bonus, “I feel at that moment it was the first game we played smart. When we are in bonus we have to take advantage of the bonus. Although we had a good shot from DeAndre, all of the other offenses were attacking inside, get fouls and go to the free throw line. This is something we have to do more of as this is basketball and we have to take advantage of everything the game gives you. We were in bonus and we really played smart. It was one of the most smartest plays in the most important part of the game.” The captain spoke about the issue of using bonus to their advantage, “It’s been a point of focus throughout the year, using smart fouls on defense and attacking when we’re in the bonus. We used it well and we were able to switch the momentum by getting to the free throw line and playing smart basketball by making things easier for ourselves.”
3) DeAndre Kane looked good against Gilboa and was playing in a rhythm throughout the close to twenty minutes he played on the floor and looked like the Kane of old. There’s no question that the guard is an integral part of the team and having bask at 110% is a huge plus as the season winds down. “I felt good and we had a long week of practice. I think my rhythm is coming back. The last couple of Euroleague and Israeli league games I wasn’t myself and I was going through something personal and it showed. Now that I’m in a better place I’m feeling a lot better.”
Alex Tyus picked up another MVP award to add to his collection as the center was dominant especially in the first half where he scored at will in the paint. He also discussed the early moments of the game, “We came out and played well on defense and held them to a low scoring half. The third quarter wasn’t that good but we bounced back and got the win.” Number 9 spoke about the team goals going forward, “Our goal is to win every game on the schedule and we’ve been playing a lot in practice which gives us time to recover and focus for every game.” On a personal level he was looking to keep his rhythm going, “I’m feeling good and I had the chance to play a lot which is good to keep my rhythm. Hopefully I can keep it going for the rest of the season.”