maccabi arroyo 248.88 asaf kliger.
(photo credit: Asaf Kliger [file])
Maccabi Tel Aviv crushed Hapoel Holon 91-72 on Sunday night in the first meeting between the teams since last season's BSL championship game.
Unlike the last time they played, however, Holon entered Sunday's home game knowing it had very little chance of getting the better of Maccabi, and it was no surprise the encounter proved to be so one-sided.
Maccabi effectively clinched the win by outscoring Holon 30-18 in the first quarter and the team should be well rested for Thursday's Euroleague Top-16 opener against Alba Berlin after cruising for the remainder of the encounter.
"This win was easier than expected," said Maccabi forward Lior Eliyahu, who led the team with 21 points and six rebounds. "We didn't expect to win by such a margin. We were composed and we made it easy."
Carlos Arroyo, Omri Casspi, D'or Fischer, Marcus Brown and Tal Burstein all hit double digits, adding 14, 13, 12, 11 and 10, respectively.
"We opened an early lead and remained in front throughout the game," Maccabi coach Pini Gershon said. "I think we played pretty well, but we turned over the ball 18 times and we can't afford to do so on Thursday."
Deron Washington and Brian Tolbert scored 18 and 17 points, respectively, for the hosts, with Chris Watson, the team's only remaining player from last season's championship winning roster, scoring eight points.
Also Sunday, Hapoel Galil Elyon/Gilboa claimed a dramatic home victory over Ironi Ashkelon.
Oded Katash's team trailed by 16 during the fourth quarter, but mounted a furious comeback in the final period to pull out a thrilling 70-68 win.
Maccabi Rishon Lezion continued to distance itself from the relegation zone on Sunday, edging Ironi Ramat Gan 73-72 on the road.
Robert Conley scored 20 points for Rishon, which has won two of three games under new coach Ofer Berkowitz, with Anthony Myles scoring 18 points and grabbing 10 rebounds for Ramat Gan.
Ironi Nahariya won for the third time in four games on Sunday, thrashing Ironi Kiryat Ata 103-73.
Ron Lewis led five Nahariya players in double-figures, scoring 22 points, with Draelon Burns scoring 22 points for Kiryat Ata, which has now lost 10 straight games and is clearly the weakest team in the league.
On Monday, Hapoel Jerusalem hosts Maccabi Givat Shmuel.
The draw for the State Cup semifinals was also made on Sunday, during the half time break of the game in Holon.
Two-time defending cup holder Hapoel Jerusalem will play Maccabi Haifa, with Holon to face Nahariya.
The semifinals will be played at the Nokia Arena on February 16, with the final to take place three days later.
In Holon, Maccabi was focused right from the start and opened a quick double-digit margin (16-6) with easy points under the basket.
An Arroyo three-pointer opened a 21-8 margin and the first period ended in a 30-18 Tel Aviv lead.
The hosts showed signs of a comeback at the start of the second quarter, with a Tolbert basket cutting the gap to just six points (30-24). Maccabi, however, never lost control and ended the half well, opening a 47-33 lead by the break.
Maccabi was never in any danger of squandering its lead in the second half, allowing Gershon to rest his starters ahead of Thursday's big game.