Lowly Mac Ashdod stuns Maccabi Tel Aviv at Nokia

With a crucial Euroleague game coming up, Maccabi was hoping Monday’s BSL encounter against Maccabi Ashdod would be yet another typical walk in the park.

January 31, 2012 05:30
2 minute read.
Guy Pnini of Maccabi Tel Aviv

Guy Pnini of Maccabi Tel Aviv 311. (photo credit: Adi Avishai)

With a crucial Euroleague game at Bennet Cantu coming up on Thursday, Maccabi Tel Aviv was hoping Monday’s BSL encounter against Maccabi Ashdod would be yet another typical walk in the park.

There was good reason to believe that would be the case considering Tel Aviv entered the game with a 12-1 league record, while also thrashing Ashdod by 29 points when the teams met earlier this season.

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Ashdod was also playing for the first time without arguably its best player after Ramel Bradley left the team for Hapoel Jerusalem last week.

However, Ashdod handed Maccabi a morale blow on Monday ahead of its game at Cantu, leading throughout the entire second half and winning 78-73 at Nokia Arena.

“Congratulations to Ashdod. They played superbly and deserved to win,” said Maccabi coach David Blatt, who saw his team lose for the second time in five days following the Euroleague defeat to Barcelona last Thursday, with the losses sandwiching Saturday’s Adriatic League win over Siroki.

“All in all, this was a game which doesn’t really affect us. We took into consideration at the start of the season that we would have some highs and lows, but we are still not taking this defeat lightly. The most important thing is that we don’t let this affect us too much because we are facing some very important games in the coming weeks and we need to get back to our best quickly and win these encounters.”

Tal Burstein led Maccabi with 14 points, with Lior Eliyahu scoring 13 for the yellow- and-blue, which was out-rebounded 41-28.

Josh Duncan had 30 points and seven rebounds for Ashdod, which also got 12 points and 11 assists from veteran Israeli playmaker Meir Tapiro.

“The players left everything out on court and I’m really happy for them,” Ashdod coach Ofer Berkowitz said. “We beat Maccabi in Nokia and that is amazing. I don’t care if it was because we were good or because Maccabi was bad.”

Despite trailing 46-43 at halftime, there seemed to be little doubt Tel Aviv would surge ahead after the break. But it was Ashdod which grabbed the game by the throat, opening a double-digit margin (62- 51) with two minutes to play in the third quarter after Duncan’s free throws capped a 10- 0 run.

The visitors still led by eight points (64-56) with 10 minutes to play and an Alex Tyus dunk increased the gap to double- figures (69-58) yet again.

Nevertheless, it still seemed inevitable that Maccabi would overturn the deficit, especially after David Blu’s three-pointer brought the team within five points (73-68) with 2:37 remaining.

However, a Dror Hagag jumper as the shot-clock buzzer sounded with 1:12 to go gave Ashdod a six-point margin (77-71), a cushion the visitors would maintain for a memorable victory.

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