Maccabi Tel Aviv clips Hapoel Holon 80-79 in thriller

Jan 29, 2022 | Holyland Hoops

Maccabi Tel Aviv just got by Hapoel Holon 80-79 in a thrilling game at Yad Eliyahu. With the yellow-and-blue without head coach Ioannis Sfairopoulos and two of his assistants due to COVID-19, interim bench boss Avi Even was able to guide the hosts to the win in as the visitors veteran forward Guy Pnini missed a potential game winning floater.

Holon grabbed the early lead on the strength of Adam Smith and Rafi Menco’s play, but Keenan Evans, Scottie Wilbekin and Jalen Reynolds were able to head into the second half down by just 3-points, 49-46. Chris Johnson scored from the inside and the outside but Iftach Ziv and John Dibartolomeo kept Guy Goodes’s squad from breaking away. Free throws by Wilbekin and Williams put Maccabi in front as time wound down while Pnini’s floater rimmed in and out as the yellow-and-blue took the victory ahead of a crucial Euroleague double week.

Evans led the way with 21 points, Wilbekin added 15 points while Reynolds chipped in with 13 points in the win. Johnson paced Holon with 19 points, Smith scored 14 points and Menco put in 12 points in the loss.

Noam Levy (l) and Avi Even (r) – Photo Credit: Basket.co.il


“We won a tough game during a very strange period of time,” Even explained following the win. “Holon has two Guys with Guy Pnini and his shots along with their coach Guy Goodes. This win is for Ioannis and the rest of the staff. We now have to turn our attention to Zalgiris.”

“Guy (Pnini) did the right thing and went to the basket with his floater which he scores 9 out of 10 times,” began Goodes. “I was happy how we played and I wasn’t sure how we would after some time off but we will move ahead. We were there and too bad we didn’t score the winning basket but we now have a huge week ahead in the Champions League.”

Guy Pnini – Photo Credit: Basket.co.il


The game MVP Keenan Evans reflected on the win, “This was a grind game where they had a great game and they are a great team but we needed this win. We tried to clean up the turnovers in the 2nd half and it worked. As for coach Even he told us to play and have fun and be filled with the Maccabi spirit and joy. It was kind of weird after a couple of days of practice without Coach Sfairopoulos but we just believed that we could win.”

Adam Smith and Michale Kyser helped Hapoel Holon get off to a hot start against Maccabi Tel Aviv who committed 4 quick turnovers as Guy Goodes’s squad jumped out to a 14-8 lead midway through the first quarter. Scottie Wilbekin and Chris Johnson traded triples while Rafi Menco and John Dibartolomeo did the same as Holon stayed in front 27-21 after ten minutes of play.

Scottie Wilbekin – Photo Credit: Basket.co.il


Wilbekin and Jalen Reynolds got busy for the yellow-and-blue in the second quarter to cut the lead down to 33-32 with 6:34 remaining in the half. Menco continued to fill the basket while Joe Ragland and Steve Zack also scored but Keenan Evans kept Avi Even’s team within striking range 49-46 at halftime.

Chris Johnson – Photo Credit: Basket.co.il


Chris Johnson and Kyser began the third quarter by attacking the Maccabi basket as Iftach Ziv and Evans answered for Maccabi as Holon still remained in the lead 59-54 midway through the period. Evans continued to hammer away but Johnson dialed up long distance, however, Wilbekin scored at the end of the frame to pull the yellow-and-blue to within 69-68 with ten minutes to play.

John Dibartolomeo – Photo Credit: Basket.co.il


Dibartolomeo went from deep, Wilbekin added a bucket and Reynolds put down a dunk to get the fourth quarter underway as Maccabi took a 75-69 lead with five minutes left in regulation time. Guy Pnini went from deep, Zack scored an easy basket in the paint but free throws by Williams and Wilbekin down the stretch allows Maccabi to clip Holon by a point to take the win.

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