Bnei Herzliya defeated Maccabi Haifa 108-88 as Max Heidegger ended his first professional season with a bang scoring a career high 43 points matching the league high this year set by Caleb Agada of Hapoel Beer Sheva back in April. Herzliya had already secured their place to remain in the top league after beating Nes Ziona earlier in the week thereby relegation HaIfa.
The Greens took a 3-point lead into the second quarter but Herzliya and Heidegger started to heat up to score 37 points in the frame to cruise to the win. Along with Heidegger, Elijah Thomas added 23 points and grabbed 7 boards and Marlain Veal chipped in with 12 points and 8 assists. Roman Sorkin led Haifa with 22 points and Chris Dowe added 20 points and 9 boards in the loss.
The Sports Rabbi spoke with Heidegger just as his professional debut campaign came to an end about his 43 point performance, if he will head back to Maccabi Tel Aviv for next year and if he ever imagined he would be the leading Israeli scorer with 17 points per game after going on loan from the Yellow & Blue.
“I really had no idea what to expect honestly (about gong on loan). I did not know if I would be staying with Maccabi or going elsewhere but I’m glad I got to spend the time with Maccabi that I did and I’m really grateful for my time with Herzliya as well,” Heidegger began.
The critics were out early in the season questioning if the California native would be able to play pro ball in Israel, but there’s no doubt he proved them wrong with his spectacular season, becoming the highest scoring Israeli since Sylven Landsberg topped the list in 2011/12 with 20.7 point per game average, “It never really fazed me too much. I never even really thought about it too much until now.”
Heidegger went into high gear over the course of the relegation playoffs and averaged 26.3 points helping Sharon Drucker’s squad stay in the WINNER League and felt good going into the final game of the season, “I went into the game feeling like I would have a big game but I don’t think anyone plans for a game like that.”
Scoring 43 points is something rare in the pros but many times in school players can hit the high numbers which is what the guard did a number of years back, “I think when I was a younger and I scored like 55 points in a middle school game. That was the most I’ve ever had.”
With Maccabi Tel Aviv keeping a watchful eye on Heidegger, there’s a chance that he will return from his loan for the upcoming season and he’s optimistic that this will be the case heading into the 2021/22 campaign, “I hope so, but at the end of the day that is not for me to decide. But on the other hand I am very grateful for Maccabi for bringing me here (to Israel) and giving me an opportunity.”
There’s no question that Heidegger has grabbed that opportunity with both hands as he heads into the summer knowing that he has done the maximum that anyone could have asked him to, but more importantly doing the maximum that he could have asked of himself as well.