Maccabi moves into 1st place; defeats Nahariya 87-77

Maccabi Tel Aviv defeated Nahariya 87-77 up north to reclaim first place in the Israel Basketball Winner League. Tarik Black was the main man as the center scored 18 points on 8/10 from the field, Johnny O’Bryant dropped 14 points while DeAndre Kane recorded 6 steals in the win. Jordan Crawford led the host’s with 15 points and Terry Allen added 14 points in the loss.

The Yellow & Blue took a 23-17 lead after the first quarter as Yovel Zoosman dropped 5 points and Tarik Black scored 4 points hitting a hook shot and then a dunk to cancel out nice frames by Iftach Ziv with 7 points and 6 points by Ben Altit. Nahariya kept it close in the second quarter with fine play by Crawford and Myke Henry while O’Bryant and Jake Cohen answered for the Yellow & Blue as they headed into halftime up by one, 41-40. Black continued dominating the paint as Maccabi extended their lead to 66-57 after thirty minutes of play and held serve throughout the final frame clamping down on defense to record the 10-point win.

1) In my mind two players stood out in the win over Nahariya; Tarik Black who provided the offense and DeAndre Kane who provided the defense . Both players had spectacular games at either end of the floor. Let’s take Black first. Baby hook, monster dunk in the first quarter and away we go to an 18 point and 7 rebound performance. The center has been playing well since returning to the starting lineup for Coach Ioannis Sfairopoulos and has been able to be a game changer both in Israeli league play and in Europe. The coach spoke about his contribution, “I am happy with all of the players and I don’t want to single anyone out. Tarik was very good, especially over the last few games and I am happy about that. But the whole team must play well every game just as they did tonight.” DeAndre Kane also complimented his teammate, “This is the second game that the big fellow has dominated in a row. You go back to the last Euroleague game he dominated that. We want to give him the ball and let him impose his will. He’s a big presence and helps us out on both ends of the floor. It’s good to see him in a great rhythm right now.” Of course, Black himself also spoke about his performance, “It feels great and I want to provide for this team. I want to be the best that I can be. I had 5 blocks against Darüşşafaka and that felt great to. The blocks, steals and defensive efficiency, whatever I can do to help this team do to win and be the best that I can be as a player to all of my abilities. I want to continue to improve and get more used to the European game. “

2) The “Minister of Defense” usually reserved for the late NFL legend Reggie White can easily be associated with DeAndre Kane. The guard leads by example on the floor and never takes a play off running end to end time and time again and that effort gave him a 6 steal evening while closing down NBA star Jordan Crawford. Sfaisopoulos said that the key to the game was the defense led by Kane’s efforts, “The defense on Crawford was the key to the win. DeAndre and the rest of the team defended him well. It was important for us to do that and we did so this evening. “ While Kane spoke about Black, Black also had some fine words for #7 as well and also noted his absence for a few weeks last month, “That can be an every night thing for him. If you go back to the game, he did it in a fashion that made it look very normal. He set the bar for himself. He’s a huge factor to this team especially for a coach that came in and preached defense from day one. Who is a better guard defender on this team? We have a lot of great defenders but he’s our best.” Kane himself also summed up the game and as always was modest giving credit to the rest of the team, “We just wanted to come out aggressive and try to get as many stops as we can. They are a very talented team and can score the ball at a high level. It was a great team effort. It wasn’t just me. I had some steals on Crawford but the other guys did an amazing job on him too. It was a great defensive team effort.”

3) Nahariya played Maccabi tough for most of the game but at the end of the day, the Yellow & Blue clamped down on defense and shutdown their opponent in a game that never seemed to be out of their control. Unlike Nahariya’s victory over Hapoel Jerusalem a couple of weeks ago where the northern squad was the better team and never allowed the Reds to get into a rhythm, Maccabi dictated the pace of play. But now Arik Alfasi’s side has top out the game behind them and focus on their next game against Maccabi Ashdod which will be a huge relegation battle for both teams. Nahariya has the talent between Crawford, Myke Henry, Iftach Ziv, Eric Griffin and Terry Allen to make some noise the rest of the way and I don’t see any reason as to why they won’t.

Ashdod used a huge 22-13 4th quarter to record a 80-75 win over Nes Tziona. Mark Tollefsen scored a massive 30 points for the host’s while Josh Carter who was making his season debut added 16 points. Tom Maayan dished out 10 assists while Lis Shoshi dropped 14 points as they also contributed to the important win. Daequan Cook and Tal Dunne each had 14 points for Nes Tziona in the loss. With the victory, Coach Brad Greenberg’s team improved their record to 6-11 with a home date against Nahariya on the horizon.

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