Maccabi Tel Aviv forward Brian Randle had 14 points and eight rebounds in his return from injury last night, with the yellow-and-blue easily beating Ironi Ness Ziona at Yad Eliyahu Arena..
(photo credit: DANNY MARON)
Maccabi Tel Aviv bounced back from last week’s defeat to Hapoel Jerusalem with a comfortable 91-72 win over Maccabi Ashdod at Yad Eliyahu Arena on Monday night.
After being swept by Jerusalem in the regular season, Maccabi was in danger of also losing all three of its meetings with Ashdod.
Tzvika Sherf’s team has won just two road games all season, but one of those victories came in Tel Aviv. However, Maccabi defeated Ashdod in their most recent encounter in the State Cup final and got the better of Sherf’s men yet again on Monday.
Maccabi improved to a 17-8 record ahead of next week’s meeting with third-place Maccabi Haifa. Haifa faced Hapoel Jerusalem late Monday night.
“I’m happy about this victory because we had twice lost against them,” said Maccabi coach Zan Tabak. “Our first goal is to recover the players ahead of next week.
We have a lot of respect for Haifa and how hard they play. We need to be more motivated for this game as we are fighting for second place.”
Gal Mekel led Maccabi with a season-high 26 points, with Sylven Landesberg the team’s only other player in double-figures with 13 points.
“It took us some time to get into the game,” said Mekel. “Sometimes things don’t work right from the start, but we ultimately found our rhythm and registered an easy win.”
Charles Thomas and Diante Garrett finished with 25 and 23 points, respectively, for Ashdod, which dropped to 11-14 with its third straight loss, complicating its position in the battle for a playoff berth.
“We played a very good first half but we collapsed at the end of the third quarter,” lamented Ashdod coach Tzvika Sherf.
“Our confidence has dropped with the recent defeats, but I think this game can help us break out of the slump because we showed some promising signs.”
Ashdod opened the game with a 10-2 run, but it would all go downhill for the visitors after that. Ashdod still led by three points (17-14) after 10 minutes, but Maccabi finally found its rhythm on offense at the start of the second quarter, scoring the first seven points of the period to take the lead. The contest would remain tight throughout the first half, with Tel Aviv leading by a mere two points (39-37) at the break.
Isaiah Swann’s three-pointer to open the second half put Ashdod ahead once more (40-39), but that would prove to be the team’s final lead of the night.
The yellow-and-blue went on a 12-2 surge to open a double-digit margin (54-44) and Maccabi maintained control until the final buzzer. The hosts took an 11-point cushion (63-52) into the final 10 minutes and a 12-3 run to begin the final frame took the margin to 20 points (75-55).
BSL action continues on Tuesday, with Nate Robinson to play his second game in Israel when Hapoel Tel Aviv (10-14) visits Ironi Nahariya (13-11). The three-time NBA dunk champion enjoyed a dream debut last week, scoring 25 points in a 103-94 win over Maccabi Rishon Lezion at the Drive-In Arena in what was his first game since being waived by the New Orleans Pelicans last October.
Also Tuesday, Bnei Herzliya (13- 11) hosts Ironi Ness Ziona (7-17) and Hapoel Eilat (12-12) goes to Maccabi Kiryat Gat (8-16).