Effi Birenboim 248.88.
(photo credit: Asaf Kliger [file])
Hapoel Gilboa/Galil will welcome Maccabi Tel Aviv to Gan Ner next week boasting a perfect 4-0 record after defeating Maccabi Rishon Lezion 76-64 on Monday night.
Galil has thoroughly impressed so far this season, not only winning all its games, but doing so in impressive fashion and by an average 16.8 points.
Oded Katash's team may have lost its concentration for extended parts of Monday's game, but once more found a way to win, as it did against Hapoel Jerusalem at Malha Arena and against last season's runner-up Maccabi Haifa last week.
Next week, however, it will face its toughest challenge by far this season.
Besides being the reigning champion and the obvious favorite to claim the league title yet again, Tel Aviv is also the only other team in the league to win its first four games, cruising by an average 18.3 points.
" Maccabi is the clear favorite," said Katash, who coached Tel Aviv for the first few months of the 2007/ 08 season before being replaced by Tzvika Sherf.
"It is going to be a very difficult game. We are a team of guards and that suits Maccabi. We don't have a good match-up with them, but we will do our best."
Jeremy Pargo led Galil once more on Monday, scoring 19 points, taking 10 rebounds and passing four assists. Elishay Kadir was excellent with 16 points, with Dagan Yavzuri adding 10 points.
" Our defense won the game for us once more," said Katash. "We weren't at our best offensively."
Rishon is still winless this season and next week faces Hapoel Holon, which has also lost its first four games.
"The players fought, but we still have many problems," said Rishon coach Effi Birenboim, who has also previously led Maccabi Tel Aviv. "We will have to fix these problems."
Larry O'Bannon scored 24 points for Rishon, with Rod Grizzard adding 15 points.
Rishon began the game well, with O'Bannon's threepointer giving the team a 72 lead. Grizzard's dunk soon after opened a six-point gap (11-5), but Galil would score the next seven points to take the lead, and Pargo's three to end the first period gave the visitors a 23-18 advantage.
Birenboim's men looked completely lost at the start of the second quarter and Hapoel made the most of it. A Dion Dowell triple followed by an Avishai Gordon three capped an 11-0 run to start the period and extended the margin to a record 16 points (34-18). Rishon cut the deficit to 41-30 by the break and an O'Bannon basket from beyond the arc brought the hosts within six points (41-35) at the start of the second half.
However, Rishon never really threatened to complete the comeback, and Gilboa built a double-digit lead once more. Maccabi struggled to score and Pargo's basket opened a comfortable 60-44 gap with 10 minutes to play.
Galil played as if the game had already been won in the first five minutes of the fourth period, scoring just four points and allowing the hosts back into the encounter.
Avi Ben-Shimol's lay-up midway through the quarter closed the gap to five points (64-59), but Izraeli scored a crucial three at the other end and Pargo clinched the win seconds later with a trademark dunk, posterizing Grizzard.