maccabi tel aviv 298 88.
(photo credit: AP)
Maccabi Tel Aviv has gone through a turbulent and disappointing preseason, registering five straight losses, but finally returned to winning ways last night, thrashing Elitzur Ashkelon 104-72 in a State Cup quarter-final.
The win came at a good time for the yellow-and-blue, with Neven Spahija winning his first official game as head coach of the Israeli champions. The result also eased the pressure from the club fans, created by the team's poor showings in recent weeks.
Spahija had to re-adjust his rotation to comply with the "Russian Rule", employed by the Israel Basketball Associtation for the upcoming basketball season. The new law requires all teams to have at least two players with Israeli nationality on the floor, at all stages of the game.
Ashkelon started the game making a quick 6-2 run in the opening minutes. But Lior Eliyahu and Will Bynum led some trademark fast breaks and turned the tide by the end of the first quarter, giving Maccabi the 31-19 lead.
New signing Noel Felix checked in for Maccabi towards the end of the second quarter, bringing his dominating presence in the paint. The hosts had no answer for Maccabi's superior roster depth and fell behind 34-62 at halftime.
Tel Aviv kept up the high tempo also in the second half, warming up for the Euroleague opener against Malaga on Thursday evening at Nokia Arena. The lead rose above the 30-point mark in the final quarter, with Rodney Buford making some highlight dunks.
Bynum and Buford scored 17 points apiece for the visitors, with the former Golden State Warriors point guard adding no less than seven assists.
Felix added 15 points and also registered five blocked shots.