Maccabi Tel Aviv survived a mighty scare to claim its first win of the season on Monday night, coming back from a 17- point deficit to edge Maccabi Haifa 75-73 in BSL action at Nokia Arena.
Maccabi dropped to a shock 83-73 loss at Hapoel Holon in its first league game last week before falling 84-80 at Laboral Vitoria in its Euroleague opener in Spain.
The yellow-and-blue looked to be on course to a third consecutive defeat when Haifa opened a 51-34 gap early in the second half. However, Maccabi avoided a potential crisis by going on to outscore the Greens 36-11 before nervously holding on for a victory, with Haifa’s Brian Randle missing an open lay-up in the final seconds that could have forced overtime.
“To come back from 17 points down is a good thing, but we shouldn’t have found ourselves in such a situation,” said Maccabi coach David Blatt. “There is a cloud of pressure that some people don’t know how to handle, but I’m happy that we got back to ourselves and won.”
Joe Ingles led Tel Aviv with 14 points, with David Blu and and Sylven Landesberg scoring 13 and 12 points, respectively.
Ike Ofoegbu had 18 points for Haifa, with Moran Roth contributing 13 points and six assists against his former team.
Tel Aviv was playing without arguably its most important player for a second straight week, with Devin Smith being rested once more ahead of Thursday’s Euroleague game against Red Star Belgrade.
There was nothing to separate the teams after 10 minutes (17- 17), but Haifa dominated the second period and took a 12-point cushion (46-34) into the break despite registering 12 turnovers.
Ofoegbu’s three-point play at the start of the third frame took the gap to 17 points (51-34) and Maccabi looked rattled.
However, the yellow-and-blue bounced back with 10 straight points and a Shawn James dunk with four minutes to play capped a 16-2 run (70-62) which seemed to have all but wrapped up the win. Nevertheless, Haifa fought back and would have pushed Maccabi to overtime had Randle not missed a shot he would expect to make blindfolded.
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