“If every game comes down to 2 points and we win then we’ll take it” Chris Jones stars in Maccabi’s 92-86 OT win over Herzliya: 3-Pointers, Analysis, Quotes & Highlights

Maccabi Tel Aviv needed overtime to down pesky Bnei Herzliya 92-86. The yellow-and-blue’s Ante Zizic and Chris Jones were able to overcome stellar performances by Frank Gaines, Kendall Anthony and Coty Clarke to take the tough win. Gaines drilled a triple with 21 seconds left in regulation time to send the game into the extra session but Ioannis Sfairopoulos’s dynamic duo scored down the stretch from the inside and outside to notch the victory. Zizic scored 18 points and grabbed 7 rebounds, Jones added 17 points and 8 assists as Elijah Bryant and Tyler Dorsey scored 16 points each in the win. Gaines scored a huge 34 points going 7/11 from downtown, Anthony added 22 points while Clarke put in 20 points, 8 boards and 5 assists in the loss.

1) The Yellow & Blue probably thought that a trip to Herzliya would be a cakewalk as Sharon Drucker’s team has not performed the way he has wanted them to so far this young season. But instead of an easy walk in the park ahead of a pair of Euroleague games in Spain, Frank Gaines put on a show for the hosts with 34 points and made Maccabi’s life miserable throughout the 45 minutes. This was definitely a game that Ioannis Sfairopoulos didn’t want to see his team need overtime to win, but that’s what it took. Credit to Herzliya for coming out strong as Kendall Anthony and Coty Clarke helped Gaines out but Drucker’s team didn’t have much more than that on the court. “I think we had a good chance and we played hard,” explained Gaines. “Everybody played together and that is what we want to continue to do. It was tough in going to overtime but as the year goes on we’ll get better and we’ll win some of close games like this.”


2) Maccabi looked lackadaisical at times and played down to the competition in a game that they should have made easy work out of. Perhaps the only positive was that they won a close game instead of losing which they have done on numerous occasions in the Euroleague. Once again Dragan Bender was weak and it was Ante Zizic who had to pull the Yellow & Blue out of the fire along with Chris Jones who made some big shots when Maccabi needed them most, “We’re a bunch of new guys put together and we are still trying to figure it out. If every game comes down to two points and we win then we will take it. The Israeli league is a lot more aggressive and you can get away with a lot more defensively. The refs let the guys play.”


3) Coach Sfairopoulos’s squad made some poor plays down the stretch but pulled it together in the extra session to notch the win which has its positives and negatives. Good in the sense they were able to get the win, bad that as the bench boss described Maccabi relaxed. “We made some mistakes both offensively and defensively at the end of regulation that gave Herzliya the chance to take the game into overtime. But we were more determined and we need to learn not to relax as we gave them a chance to get back into the game.” This really opens up the more serious question if Maccabi plays at the same intensity in both the Israeli league and the Euroleague. Sfairopoulos wanted no part of that query, “Israeli league is tough and we play with the same intensity, I can’t say that we don’t. We controlled the game until the 28th minute and we made some mistakes but that’s normal as they took tough shots and brought the game closer.”

Dov Halickman Photography

Finally, just ahead of the NBA Draft Deni Avdija has been at both of Maccabi’s last two games, last Thursday against Zalgiris and in Herzliya. Coach Sfairopoulos had this to say about the budding Israeli star, “We wish him good luck and we are very happy for him as the draft is in a few days. We will follow him and we will be very happy for him as we will see him in the NBA. We’re very proud of him.”

Hapoel Eilat sunk Maccabi Rishon Le’Zion 86-84 in a game that the saw Casey Prather and Jonathan Skjöldebrand dominate from beyond the arc while Josh Nebo operated in the paint for Ariel Beit Halachmi’s Red Sea City side in the victory despite Noam Dovrat’s career high in points with 20. Prather led all scorers with 28 points on 5/7 from 3-point land, Skjöldebrand added 17 points thanks to a trip of triples while Nebo recorded a double-double with 16 points and 12 rebounds. In addition to Dovrat’s 20 points, Akil Mitchell added 18 points and Darryl Monroe chipped in with 17 points in the defeat, their second in as many games.

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