Maccabi Tel Aviv toiled to yet another BSL victory on Sunday night in what is becoming characteristic fashion this season, while Maccabi Haifa bounced back from its humbling Eurocup loss in Russia with its fourth win from its past five league games.
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The yellow-and-blue raced ahead in the first five minutes of the encounter against Hapoel Gilboa/ Galil, opening an early 13-point gap (20-7) at Nokia Arena.
Maccabi still held a double-digit margin (49-38) at the break, but failed to kill off the game and Nimrod Tishman’s basket midway through the fourth period handed the visitors a surprise lead (72-71).
However, Maccabi regained its composure when it mattered most and toughed out an 86-79 victory to improve to 11-4.
Devin Smith led Maccabi with 21 points, while Alex Tyus contributed 18 points and nine rebounds for the yellow-andblue, which notched its 14th consecutive triumph over all competitions and sixth-straight BSL victory, although its past four league wins have come only by an average five points.
“We are still not a great team and that is why we struggle to play well both in the Euroleague and the BSL,” said Maccabi coach David Blatt, attempting to explain why his team can’t match its impressive continental showings in local league action.
Deshawn Sims had 28 points and 11 rebounds for Gilboa (7-9).
A stunning third quarter display saw Haifa (10-6) record an 80-60 victory at Hapoel Eilat, which fell back to. 500 at 8-8.
A tight first half ended tied at 28-28, but Haifa would outscore the hosts 27-6 in the third frame to open an unassailable cushion (55-34), with Dagan Yavzuri netting 13 points in the quarter alone.
Yavzuri ended the game with a team-high 19 points, while Brian Randle had 14 points and nine rebounds.
Moran Roth took another step forward in his comeback from a knee injury with 10 points and five boards for Haifa, which didn’t dwell on the 39-point drubbing it was handed by Khimki Moscow last week.
Elishay Kadir led Eilat with 14 points and 12 boards.
Elsewhere, Maccabi Ashdod (3-13) snapped its eight-game losing streak on Sunday, beating Bnei Herzliya (5-11) 89-75 for it first victory in two months.
Ashdod had lost 13 of its past 14 games, but opened a double-digit gap in the third frame and never looked back.
Marcus Dove led Ashdod with 25 points and nine rebounds, with Zack Rosen finishing the night with 17 points, nine assists and eight boards. Michael Umeh scored 17 points for Herzliya, which dropped to its fifth consecutive loss.
On Monday, league-leader Hapoel Jerusalem (12-3) visits Hapoel Holon (8-7), Hapoel Tel Aviv (10-5) goes to Ironi Ness Ziona (8-6) and Maccabi Rishon Lezion (4-11) hosts Netanya (6-9).