Bnei Herzliya scored a 71-59 knockout over Maccabi Tel Aviv as Oren Aharoni’s squad dominated the Yellow & Blue with suffocating defense and timely shooting to down Ioannis Sfairopoulos’s team. On “Green Game” which Herzliya used to promote maintaining the environment, the hosts stayed in front for the majority of the game thanks to Chinanu Onuaku’s strong play inside along with key points by Andy Van Vliet in the first half and Chris Babb’s sharpshooting from the outside in the second half to notch the win.
Van Vliet led the way with 19 points, Babb added 16 points and Onuaku recorded a double-double with 14 points and 11 rebounds. Scottie Wilbekin scored 13 points and Jalen Reynolds added 11 points in the loss.
“I want to give credit to our defense,” Herzliya coach Oren Aharoni began. “We were focused from the first minute of the game. Last time we played Maccabi we didn’t come in mentally prepared and our defense this time is what kept us in the game and helped us win.”
Chinanu Onuaku also commented on the victory, “We played well as a team and at both ends of the court. Our defense was key and last game against them we didn’t play any. That was our mindset and the guys got confident.”
“It’s obvious the result was from the energy we didn’t have with the 3rd game in 5 days,” Maccabi coach Ioannis Sfairopoulos lamented. “It’s not easy to play less than 48 hours ago and tactically Herzliya packed the paint and gave us the outside. In order to hit from the outside you need fresh legs. We had a promise that we wouldn’t play back to back games form the Minhelet (the league administration). We have played many games this season and played against a team that played only once a week which showed that we were out of fuel.”
Andy Van Vliet, Sandy Cohen and Chinanu Onuaku opened the scoring for Bnei Herzliya while Jake Cohen and Kameron Taylor found the basket for Maccabi Tel Aviv but the hosts led 11-4 midway through the first quarter. Onuaku dunked, Jalen Reynolds responded with a trio of buckets at the other end, Derrick Williams put in his first basket of the game but points by Maurice Kemp kept Oren Aharoni’s team ahead 17-13 after ten minutes of action.
Iftach Ziv went from deep to get the second quarter underway, Onuaku hit a midrange jumper, Roman Sorkin jammed the ball home and Scottie Wilbekin drilled a triple to get to within one-point 24-23 with five minutes remaining in the first half. Van Vliet scored a jumper and then a 3-pointer for the hosts, Wilbekin went outside and then from inside, but Van Vliet kept finding the bottom of the basket and Quinton Hooker dialled up long distance as the halftime buzzer sounded to keep Herzliya in front 37-31.
Williams for Maccabi and Onuaku for Herzliya began the third quarter with points, Van Vliet with the hot hand went from deep and Reynolds scored inside but Herzliya held the 42-36 lead midway through the period. Sorkin put down a major dunk, Babb responded with a pair from downtown but Jake Cohen scored for Ioannis Sfairopoulos’s team to get to within 50-48 after thirty minutes of play.
Babb and Shawn Dawson drilled home a triple to get the fourth quarter going, Wilbekin came right back to score one of his own but Babb nailed a corner 3-ball to give the hosts a 61-53 lead with 6:29 left in the period. John DiBartolomeo scored from downtown, Sandy Cohen came right back for Herzliya, Dawson scored in the paint and Van Vliet added points to knock off the defending league champs 71-59.
Hapoel Galil Elyon downed Hapoel Beer Sheva 74-66 as the hosts held the southern reds to just 19 points over the course of the first half to record the win. Nimrod Levi led the way with 19 points while Ike Iroegbu and Omer Tal each scored 12 points. Netta Segal scored 15 points and Amir Bell added 11 points in the defeat.
“This was a big win for us and it’s how we want to win, play and continue on our way,” Galil Elyon coach Barak Peleg said after the win.
Omer Tal also looked back on the game, “This was an important win that brought us back together as a team. Of course the importance of the win is like any other victory. We always want to win when we play well. We played some tougher teams recently and that will help us as we play a tougher part of our schedule.”