Yellow-and-blue in cruise control

Mac TA has little trouble beating Eilat for 17th consecutive BSL win; red-hot Nahariya edges Holon.

March 16, 2015 04:45
2 minute read.
Maccabi Tel Aviv

Maccabi Tel Aviv’s Yogev Ohayon. (photo credit: ADI AVISHAI)

Maccabi Tel Aviv stretched its legs and avoided any new injuries in a straight-forward 86-68 win over Hapoel Eilat at Yad Eliyahu Arena on Sunday night, the yellow-and-blue’s 17th straight BSL win.

Maccabi opened a 13-point gap (27-14) by the end of the first quarter and never looked back, taking a 21-point margin (48-27) into the break and cruising in the second half.

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Devin Smith had 15 points, 13 rebounds and five assists in 25 minutes, with Brian Randle and Alex Tyus adding 14 and 13 points, respectively.

Elishay Kadir scored 13 points for Eilat, which fell to 10-13.

Maccabi improved to 21-2 and picked up some much-needed confidence ahead of Thursday’s crucial Euroleague game against Zalgiris Kaunas at Yad Eliyahu.

While the yellow-and-blue continues to cruise in local action, its continental campaign has been derailed in recent weeks. Maccabi was outplayed in an 89-71 defeat to Barcelona in Spain last week for its third defeat in the past four games in the competition, falling to 6-4.

“We needed to get back on track to defending the way we have been in the past and we did that tonight,” said Smith. “The Euroleague games are usually affected by the way we play in the domestic league and hopefully we can build on tonight.”

A Robert Rothbart basket with three seconds to play gave Ironi Nahariya its fifth win from the past six games on Sunday, completing a season sweep of Hapoel Holon with an 80-79 victory on the road.

Nahariya continued its transformation from a relegation favorite to a playoff contender by coming back from a double-digit deficit in the second half to claim a dramatic win and improve to 10-13.

A Frank Robinson three-pointer with nine seconds to play brought Nahariya back on level terms (78-78) and Holon’s Jordan Taylor could only hit one of two free-throw attempts two seconds later. Nahariya’s Mark Lyons missed his shot from under the basket at the other end, but Rothbart was on hand to dunk in the offensive rebound and clinch the visitors win.

Lyons led Nahariya with 25 points, while Rothbart continued his breakout season with a fifth straight double-double, finishing with 19 points, 16 rebounds and three blocks.

Taylor had 24 points for Holon, which has lost three of four games, falling to 13-10.

Hapoel Gilboa/Galil claimed its first win of 2015 on Sunday, edging Ironi Ness Ziona 72-71 in Ariel Beit-Halachmi’s first game in charge.

Gilboa had lost 10 consecutive games and dropped to the bottom of the standings before Barak Peleg was sacked and replaced by Beit-Halachmi last week. The team almost managed to squander a seven-point lead late in the game, but Ness Ziona missed four shots in its final possession, three by Preston Knowles, and Gilboa survived.

De’Mon Brooks had 14 points and nine boards for Gilboa (6-17), with Craig Smith having 24 points for Ness Ziona (11-12), which has lost seven of eight encounters.

Also Sunday, Bnei Herzliya (10- 13) comfortably beat Maccabi Rishon Lezion (12-11) 98-78. Herzliya took a 10-point gap (47-37) into the break and outscored Rishon 26-12 in the third quarter to open an unassailable lead (73-49).

Oz Blayzer scored 23 points for Herzliya, with Julian Wright adding 22 points. Dominique Johnson and Jackie Carmichael netted 16 points each for Rishon.

On Monday, Hapoel Tel Aviv (12-10) hosts Maccabi Haifa (9-13).

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