Maccabi Tel Aviv drop Beer Sheva, Hapoel Tel Aviv comeback downs Nes Ziona

May 17, 2023 | Holyland Hoops

Maccabi Tel Aviv took a 1-0 series lead with a 86-77 win over Hapoel Beer Sheva as Darrun Hilliard drilled home five 3-pointers to take the game one victory. The first half saw Hilliard and Roman Sorkin give the yellow-and-blue a 43-34 lead by halftime, but David Efiyani and Greg Whittington pulled the southern reds to within just 3-points, 72-69 in the final frame.

However, Hilliard once again came up big with a pair of triples along with points by Lorenzo Brown helped seal the deal to chalk up the win for Oded Katash’s team as they took a big step towards the semifinals.

Hilliard led the way with 17 points, Brown added 14 points while Sorkin and Alex Poythress each scored 10 points in the win. Efiyani checked in with 23 points, Whittington scored 16 points and Ben Moore chipped in with 13 points in the loss.

Oded Katash and Lior Lubin – Photo Credit:

“The thing I can take from this game is the win because it wasn’t a great game,” Oded Katash said. “We weren’t there mentally and physically and Beer Sheva really came into the game with a plan. We have to come together and the playoffs won’t be simple as our goal is to win it all. We have to get into this series and also see when we can get our injured players back.”

“It’s been quite some time since we played Maccabi and we had to really put in a lot of effort,” Beer Sheva coach Lior Lubin began. “We played well but have to put in even more work to get a result. On this team every player can help one way or another. We are playing with a bit of a short roster and everyone has to contribute. I believe in every player if they are on the floor and everyone can help in our effort in this series.”

Alex Poythress – Photo Credit:

Alex Poythress spoke about the victory, “It felt like a playoff game and Beer Sheva was ready to play with a game plan. It was close but we were able to get separation in the fourth quarter to take the win. Moving to the Israeli league is difficult as everyone is hyped up for the Euroleague games. But we are professionals and we have to approach these games the same way. Beer Sheva is a good team and we have to come in with the same energy and they are all gunning for us.”

David Efiyani also reflected on the game, “It was a hard fought game and Maccabi made some key offensive rebounds and Hilliard made some tough shots. All in all it was a good game. The coaching staff got us prepared to play Maccabi and we played the best of the best. We know Maccabi is one of the best teams and if we play at a high level and play tight defense we will be there.”

Greg Whittington – Photo Credit:

Bonzie Colson put in points and Lorenzo Brown added a triple for Maccabi Tel Aviv while Greg Whittington, Egor Koulechov and David Efiyani got busy for Hapoel Beer Sheva as they took an 13-7 lead midway through the first quarter. Darrun Hilliard went from the outside, Alex Poythress, Roman Sorkin went from the inside and Rafi Menco scored to give the yellow-and-blue a 19-15 lead after ten minutes of play.

Koulechov got busy with a pair of baskets, Poythress and Menco responded and Hilliard went from downtown to give Oded Katash’s squad a 30-22 lead with five minutes to go in the second quarter. Efiyani went from deep, Sorkin put in points, Ben Moore answered, Iftach Ziv scored his first bucket of the game, Ron Zipper and Efiyani came back with baskets but Ziv scored a 3-point play to end the half with Maccabi in front 43-34.

Roman Sorkin – Photo Credit:

Whittington and Efiyani began the third quarter with points, Sorkin dunked, Colson added a deuce, Whittington came back with a triple but the yellow-and-blue kept the lead 48-41 midway through the period. Efiyani found points, Brown went from the inside and outside, Jarell Martin scored, Ziv went from deep, Menco scored but Joaquin Szuchman went from deep for Lior Lubin’s team to keep hanging around but down 61-54 after thirty minutes of action.

Efiyani and Szuchman dialled up long distance, Poythress scored inside, Hilliard and Dibartolomeo went from deep, Moore flinders points for the visitors but Maccabi kept the lead. 72-66 with five minutes remaining in regulation time. Whittington dialled up long distance, Hilliard scored a pair from deep and Martin added points to wrap up a 86-77 win.

Hapoel Tel Aviv came back from a double digit halftime deficit to down Nes Ziona 90-77 and take a 1-0 series lead. Elad Hasin’s squad came out strong as Tyler Bey and former Red Raz Adam led the way for the visitors to grab a 47-35 lead at halftime, but Tomer Ginat, Xavier Munford and China Onuaku all helped in a 55-30 second half for Danny Franco’s team to take the victory. Ginat led the way with 19 points and 14 rebounds, Munford added 19 points and Onuaku scored 14 points and added 11 rebounds in the win. Bey scored 22 points while Adam and Jerome Meyinsse scored 14 points each in the loss.

“It was no surprise as to how the game began,” Hapoel coach Danny Franco said. “We were playing at home and spoke about the pressure that we would be under which is influential. They are an underdog team with plenty of tools. We beat them three times but there is always this worry about beating them yet another time.”

“You could say we missed a good chance here in this game,” Hasin said. “We are there for 30-35 minutes but against Hapoel Tel Aviv you have to be focussed. Tomer Ginat had some big baskets and we made plenty of mistakes that cost us as Hapoel punished us and we will need to learn from it.”

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