Macca bi Tel Aviv forward Victor Rudd dunks while Bnei Herzliya’s Karam Mashour (left) looks on during the yellow-and-blue’s win in Game 1 of the BSL quarterfinals last night at Yad Eliyahu Arena.
(photo credit: ADI AVISHAI)
Arik Shivek’s tenure at Maccabi Tel Aviv got off to an impressive start against Bnei Herzliya in the BSL playoff quarterfinals on Monday night, while No. 1 seed Hapoel Holon survived a mighty scare to beat Maccabi Haifa in a double-overtime instant classic.
Haifa, which needed a win in the final game of the regular season to qualify for the playoffs, led for much of the fourth quarter and had chances to win the game at the end of regulation and the first overtime.
But the Greens couldn’t overcome a superb performance by Tu Holloway, who scored 34 points to lead Holon to a 104-99 victory and a 1-0 advantage in the best-of-five series.
Shivek replaced Ainars Bagatskis last week, becoming the team’s fourth coach of the season. The Latvian was only appointed last December, with Rami Hadar resigning following less than two months at the helm after beginning the season as an assistant coach to Erez Edelstein, who was fired after only two Euroleague games.
After losing eight of its final 10 regular season games under Bagatskis to drop to fourth place in the standings, the yellowand- blue seemed reinvigorated in Shivek’s first game in charge.
The former Israel national team coach, who was only handed a contract until the end of the season and is not expected to continue as head coach in 2017/18, didn’t have long to make significant changes, but the players at least displayed the effort and intensity they so desperately lacked in recent months to claim a comfortable 87-73 win.
Maccabi was ahead by only seven points (50-43) at the break, but all but secured the win by the start of the final frame, outscoring Herzliya 30-14 in the third quarter.
Andrew Goudelock netted 21 points, with Victor Rudd adding 17 points and 11 rebounds for Maccabi, which had lost its previous seven home games over all competitions, not winning at Yad Eliyahu Arena since March 19.
D.J. Sharp had 16 points for Herzliya, which beat Maccabi in all three of their regular season meetings and hosts Game 2 next Sunday.
In Holon, Haifa opened what seemed like a significant seven-point lead (73-66) with seven minutes to play in the fourth quarter. But the hosts would score the next five points and the game headed to a dramatic finish.
Moments after suffering a hard fall on his back, Holloway hit a three-pointer to give Holon an 82-81 edge with 50.7 seconds remaining.
Amit Simhon replied with a triple at the other end with 30 seconds to play, but James Bell tied the score from the freethrow line and the game went into overtime after Gregory Vargas missed a chance to win at the buzzer.
Both teams struggled to score in the first extra period, with all of Holon’s points coming from the line. Holloway netted all three of his attempts from the charity stripe with 17.7 seconds remaining to move Holon level yet again, and Vargas and Kevinn Pinkney would live to rue their missed shots which meant the contest continued for another five minutes.
Holloway would not be denied in the second overtime, adding eight points to his total to ensure Holon defended its home court.
Darion Atkins added 18 points and 10 rebounds for Holon, with Simhon leading six Haifa players in double figures with 22 points. Haifa hosts Game 2 on Saturday.