maccabi tel aviv 224.88.
(photo credit: Asaf Kliger/file)
Maccabi Tel Aviv put aside the ongoing Moni Fanan scandal on Sunday night and began its BSL campaign with a comfortable 76-68 victory at Maccabi Haifa.
In the wake of the raid on the club's offices by Tax Authority investigators earlier in the day (see page 1), Tel Aviv was delighted to turn the focus, at least for a couple of hours, to the basketball court.
Pini Gershon's team led throughout the encounter, which was a repeat of last season's Final Four title game, with Haifa remaining in striking distance for much of the night, but never really threatening to complete the comeback.
"The club is going through some unpleasant days, some sad days, but Maccabi does not collapse so quickly," said Gershon, who was a close friend of Fanan's. "We will come out stronger from this."
Alan Anderson led five Tel Aviv players in double-figures, scoring 13 points, with the team dishing an impressive 24 assists in the game.
Davon Jefferson scored 21 points for Haifa, with Jeremy Tyler looking lost on his league debut, scoring just one point in 10 minutes on court.
Meanwhile, in other opening-night action, newly-promoted Barak Netanya and Hapoel Afula both won their BSL debuts. Netanya held Ironi Nahariya to just 20 points in the first half, leading 32-20 at the break, and cruised to a surprisingly easy 75-63 victory. Marco Killingsworth led the winners with 17 points and 13 rebounds, with Or Eitan scoring 16 points for the disappointing Nahariya.
The basket of the evening was scored in Holon where Niv Berkowitz, son of Maccabi Tel Aviv legend Miki, showed he has inherited his father's golden touch, scoring a stunning three-pointer at the buzzer to give Afula a 87-84 overtime win against Hapoel Holon.
After a tight game, Afula's Justin Dentmon MACCABI TEL AVIV swingman Alan Anderson goes up to the hoop for two uncontested points. Anderson led the yellow-and-blue with 13 points in a 76-68 road victory against Maccabi Haifa last night in Week 1 of the BSL season. forced overtime with a lay-up, tying the score at 74-74. The encounter seemed destined for a second extra period after Afula's BJ McKie slipped with two seconds to play. However, the ball somehow found its way to Berkowitz from the subsequent in-bound pass and his extraordinary shot won the game. Berkowitz had 11 points on the night, with Dentmon scoring 25 and McKie adding 17. Dwayne Mitchell scored 18 points for Holon.
Also Sunday, Bnei Hasharon thrashed Ironi Ramat Gan 82-62 behind Ron Steele's 21 points. Erez Katz had 12 rebounds and eight assists, with Sean James blocking eight shots. Taj McCullough scored 15 points for Ramat Gan, which was blown away in the fourth quarter.
On Monday, Hapoel Galil/Gilboa hosts Ironi Ashkelon.
In Haifa, Anderson scored Tel Aviv's first five points of the night and his early three-pointer gave the team a 5-2 lead. It took Haifa more than four minutes to score its first field goal of the encounter, but Jefferson's thunderous dunk would bring the hosts within three points (107), and Dror Hagag's jumper soon after tied the score at 18-18.
The yellow-and-blue would nevertheless end the first period in a commanding position, with the fit-again David Bluthenthal hitting two straight shots from beyond the arc to give Tel Aviv a 29-20 lead.
The visitors cruised for most of the second quarter and a Chuck Eidson three with 3:30 to play in the first half opened a 40-26 margin.
Haifa limited the damage until the break (45-34) and continued to eat away at the gap in the third period. Tel Aviv led by as many as 16 points (52-36) at one stage, but scored just five points in the final five minutes of the quarter, and Haifa was right back in the game, trailing by just four points (59-55) with 10 minutes to play.
However, the hosts undid all their good work in the first five minutes of the fourth quarter, failing to score a point and allowing Tel Aviv to effectively clinch the win.
Eidson's lay-up after a Haifa turnover midway through the quarter opened a 65-55 advantage, and Tel Aviv was in full control after that, sailing to a first BSL win of the season.