Maccabi Tel Aviv sent BSL opponents an emphatic warning on Sunday night, thrashing Hapoel Jerusalem 75-55 at the Nokia Arena.
After losing the BSL championship twice in the past three seasons, Maccabi entered this campaign with every intention of dominating its opponents in each and every game, and it did exactly that on Sunday.
After a tight first half, Tel Aviv held what many consider to be its main rival for the title on 20 points in the final 20 minutes, eventually clinching the win with ease.
“We shut them down in the second half and did enough offensively to win by 20 points,” said Maccabi coach David Blatt, whose team will visit Partizan Belgrade in the Euroleague on Thursday.
Guy Pnini scored 15 points for Maccabi, with Tal Burstein adding 12.
Will Solomon had 16 points for Jerusalem, but only two in the second half.
Jason Rich was Hapoel’s only other player to reach double-figures, with 12 points.
Maccabi Tel Aviv 75,
Hapoel Jerusalem 55
Solomon had his game face on from the start and his early three-pointer gave Jerusalem the lead (6-4).
However, Maccabi would answer with a 7-0 run within a minute, capped by a Jeremy Pargo basket.
A sloppy game would transpire, and Tel Aviv held just a two-point lead (17- 15) after 10 minutes.
Chuck Eidson brought some composure to Maccabi’s offense and his five straight points were instrumental in a 9-0 run, which would give the hosts a double- digit gap (29-18).
However, Jerusalem was never going to give up, and thanks to Solomon’s 14- point first half performance, trailed by a mere five points (40-35) at the half.
The visitors would come within three points after Jason Rich scored the first points of the third period, but that would be as close as Hapoel would get.
Jerusalem’s offense would completely lose its way, and despite not even getting a single point from Sofo, Maccabi would run away with the win.
Brian Randle’s basket with just under three minutes to play in the third quarter cut Hapoel’s deficit to 49-44, but the hosts would end the period with an 8-2 run, with Pnini’s three opening a 57-46 advantage ahead of the final frame.
Matters would go from bad to worse for Jerusalem in the fourth quarter, with Oded Katash’s men scoring just one field goal in the final 10 minutes and falling apart in embarrassing fashion.
Maccabi Haifa 77,
Barak Netanya 72
In Netanya, the hosts opened the game with a 7-0 run and Eric Alfasi’s men led 19-11 after 10 minutes.
However, Haifa would need just four second period minutes to take the lead, beginning the quarter with a 12-2 run, only for Netanya to have a one-point edge at the break (32-31).
After a tight third period, Haifa would score the final five points of the frame to take a slender cushion into the final 10 minutes (55-50), but Netanya was never too far behind.
Adrian Banks’ three-pointer tied the encounter at 68-68 with less than
two minutes to play, but Banks would go on to miss four consecutive
shots and Haifa clinched the win with a 7-0 run.
Frank Robinson led Haifa with 17 points, with Marco Killingsworth adding 16 points and 11 rebounds.
Banks had 21 points for Netanya, with Romeo Travis scoring 19 for the hosts.
Maccabi Rishon Lezion 79,
Maccabi Ashdod 76
The visitors opened a 21-15 gap after 10 minutes in Ashdod and looked comfortable at the break, leading 50-38.
Ashdod cut the deficit to 65-57 with one quarter to play, but Ramel
Bradley’s basket would bring the hosts within one possession (76-74)
with a minute to play.
However, Ashdod could not complete the comeback and Rishon held on for a slender win.
Darrell Tucker led the winners with 19, with Bradley scoring 27 for Ashdod.