Basketball: Mac TA wins nail-biting cup final

Gershon delighted after claiming dramatic 77-70 victory over Bnei Hasharon.

By BY ALLON SINAI
February 19, 2010 07:05
3 minute read.
Alan Anderson

Maccabi Tel Aviv 311. (photo credit: AP)

Maccabi Tel Aviv survived a brave Bnei Hasharon effort to claim its first State Cup in four years on Thursday, winning 77-70 in the final at the Nokia Arena.

Maccabi has never gone more than three years without winning the cup, but very nearly lost Thursday’s final, with Bnei Hasharon squandering a couple of chances to take the lead in the final two minutes of the encounter.

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Tel Aviv led throughout the game, but Bnei Hasharon never allowed the perennial league champion to pull too far in front and ended up coming tantalizingly close to a first cup in club history, despite scoring just 22 of 68 from the field.

Maccabi only hit 29 of 63 shots and was outrebounded 48-38, but showed once more that when all else fails it can also fight it out with the best of them and eventually outhustled Bnei Hasharon for the title which has eluded it for the past three seasons.

“We are delighted to lift the cup again,” Maccabi coach Pini Gershon said. “We were the better team for most of the game. We defended superbly and held Bnei Hasharon to 32 percent from the field, which is not an easy thing to do. I think that if we would have played better on offense we would have clinched the win earlier.”

David Bluthenthal scored 14 points for Maccabi, with Alan Anderson, Andrew Wisniewski and Guy Pnini adding 12, 11 and 10 points, respectively.

D’or Fischer dominated under the baskets, taking 12 rebounds and blocking four shots, as well as scoring eight points.



“It feels great to bring the cup back to Maccabi,” Anderson said. “We had to work hard for the win and despite some turnovers managed to finish with the win.”

Shawn James had 20 points and 12 rebounds for Bnei Hasharon, with Ori Itzhaki and Sam Clancy scoring 17 and 10 points, respectively.

“Maccabi controlled the game, but we came back and I’m proud of that,” said Bnei Hasharon coach Dan Shamir, who guided Hapoel Jerusalem to the cup in 2007 and 2008.

“We fought throughout the game and showed our character. We missed a few plays in the money-time, but the better team won the game.”

Points were hard to come by for both teams at the start of the game, but it was Maccabi which broke out of the scoring slump first and Fischer’s long jumper gave the team an early 10-2 lead.

An Anderson basket extended the gap to 14-5 and, with Bnei Hasharon only managing to score two of 15 field-goal attempts in the first period, Tel Aviv was in front 20-10 after 10 minutes.

Shamir’s players would catch fire at the beginning of the second quarter and doubled their point total within just two minutes.

Two threes were followed by baskets from Itzhaki and Isaac Rosenfelt and all of the sudden the score was tied (20-20).

Maccabi almost immediately pulled ahead once more, but Bnei Hasharon never lost touch and despite Pnini’s triple at the buzzer was down by just five points at the break (38-33).

The Sharon side came within one point, but could not take the lead and the rarely used Derrick Sharp scored two threes, the second of which opened a 60-51 margin with just over two minutes to play in the quarter.

Maccabi took a seven-point gap (63-56) into the final 10 minutes, but the yellow-and-blue could not shake Bnei Hasharon and Shamir’s men were down by a mere three points (65-62) after Clancy’s three-point move.

Ron Steele’s triple with 2:45 to play closed the gap to a single point (69-68) and set up a thrilling ending to the game.

With Tel Aviv leading 71-70 with less than two minutes remaining in the game, Bnei Hasharon had its chances to go in front, but both Steele and James squandered golden opportunities and Maccabi held on for nail-biting victory.


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