Reigning-champion Maccabi Haifa finally got off the mark in the BSL on Sunday night, beating Maccabi Ashdod 90-84 at Romema Arena.
After humbling defeats to the Phoenix Suns, Detroit Pistons and Memphis Grizzlies in its preseason NBA tour in America, Haifa suffered painful setbacks in its Eurocup opener versus Unics Kazan and at Maccabi Tel Aviv in its first BSL game.
The Greens eventually recorded their first victory of 2013/14 last Wednesday, beating MZT Skopje 86-83 in Macedonia in Eurocup action, and they got the better of Ashdod on Sunday to improve to 1-1 in the BSL despite the distraction caused by star forward Donta Smith.
Haifa announced the release of guard Sherwood Brown on Sunday morning after the American struggled to settle at the club. Smith took the departure of his American teammate to heart and vented his frustration on Twitter. Smith launched a scathing attack on the club’s management, using curse words to make his feelings felt.
Nevertheless, Smith played 37 minutes on Sunday, but managed just eight points and seven rebounds, while registering six turnovers, in a sub-par performance.
Despite key playmaker Moran Roth also sitting out the game due to illness, Haifa had enough weapons to wrap up the important win.
Venezuelan David Cubillan led the team with 23 points and five assists, with Israeli Ben Rice scoring 19 points and Ike Ofoegbu continuing his impressive start to life in Haifa with 18 points and six rebounds.
Ryan Pearson had 14 points for Ashdod, which has lost two straight games since stunning Hapoel Jerusalem at Malha Arena.
Haifa scored nine of the first 11 points of the night and never relinquished the lead.
Ashdod remained within striking distance for much of the encounter and trailed by just three points with three minutes to play.
However, Ashdod couldn’t complete a comeback and fell to 1-2.
Hapoel Tel Aviv, Bnei Herzliya and Hapoel Holon all improved to 2-1 on Sunday with emphatic wins.
Tel Aviv led by just seven points (35-28) at the break, but it began the second half with a 12-2 run (47-30) to take a stranglehold of the contest versus Maccabi Rishon Lezion on the way to an 82-71 victory.
Carlon Brown had 30 points for Hapoel, with Raviv Limonad coming up big for the Reds yet again, netting 21.
Brian Hopkins scored 21 points for Rishon (1-2).
Herzliya effectively clinched its 95-66 triumph over Barak Netanya in the first period, opening the game with a 20-3 run.
Netanya managed to close within 12 points (23-11) by the end of the quarter, but never really turned the encounter into a competitive contest.
Oz Blazer led Herzliya with 22 points and eight rebounds, with Ndudi Ebi contributing 16 points and 11 rebounds.
Yoad Beit Yosef scored 17 points for Netanya (1-1).
After a tight first half ended in a slender Holon lead (31-28), the visitors pulled ahead by outscoring Hapoel Gilboa/Galil 31-16 in the third quarter on the way to an 80-60 win.
Ezequiel Skverer led Holon with 18 points, with Rick Jackson scoring 11 for Gilboa (1-2).
On Monday, Eilat, which is the only team with a 2-0 record, travels to Malha to face the 0-2 Hapoel Jerusalem.
Also Monday, Ironi Ness Ziona hosts Maccabi Tel Aviv.
Stay on top of the news - get the Jerusalem Post headlines direct to your inbox!