Avdija, Maccabi Tel Aviv power past Ness Ziona

Hapoel Jerusalem rallies to overcome Nahariya • Mac Haifa tops Rishon • Holon edges Gilboa

QUINCY ACY (left) and Scottie Wilbekin (right) helped shut down Jeremy Hollowell (center) and Ness Ziona late in Maccabi Tel Aviv’s 80-71 victory in Winner League action. (photo credit: ADI AVISHAI)
QUINCY ACY (left) and Scottie Wilbekin (right) helped shut down Jeremy Hollowell (center) and Ness Ziona late in Maccabi Tel Aviv’s 80-71 victory in Winner League action.
(photo credit: ADI AVISHAI)
Maccabi Tel Aviv pulled away from Ness Ziona over the final few minutes of their duel this week to come away with an 80-71 victory at Yad Eliyahu and remain undefeated in Israel Winner League play.
The visitors played the yellow-and-blue tough throughout the first 35 minutes, but the insertion of Deni Avdija with 5:21 left in regulation sparked Ioannis Sfairopoulos’s squad to an 11-4 run to secure the hard-fought conquest.
Othello Hunter, who made his return following an injury, scored 15 points, Jake Cohen added 13 points and 12 rebounds, Elijah Bryant chipped in with 11 points while Avdija scored nine points and grabbed five boards for Tel Aviv. Corey Fisher led Ness Ziona with 16 points, while Jeff Withey added 14 points and 11 rebounds in defeat
Maccabi Tel Aviv led 43-40 at the half, but Fisher and Withey put Ness Ziona in front early in the third quarter before the yellow-and-blue took a 58-57 advantage into the final frame.
Ness Ziona stayed within striking distance and was down by just a pair of points (69-67) when Avdija checked back into the game with four fouls, and the 19-year-old swingman led Tel Aviv on a dominant closing run and the victory.
“We didn’t play a good game although we had some good moments,” said Sfairopoulos following the game. “The most important thing is that we won. We defended against Daequan Cook very well and made sure he couldn’t get into a scoring rhythm. We showed our selfless basketball in the last quarter, scored some layups and ended with close to a double-digit win.”
Meanwhile, second-place Hapoel Jerusalem defeated Ironi Nahariya 88-82 in the northern city to win its ninth league game in a row and up its league record to 12-1.
The Reds used a 24-17 fourth quarter to complete the comeback and pick up the victory at Ein Sara in a game that saw new recruit John Holland make a successful debut with nine points, four rebounds and four steals in 26 minutes of action.
TaShawn Thomas led the way for Jerusalem with 18 points, J’Covan Brown added 16 points while Idan Zalmanson and Tamir Blatt each dropped 10 points in the victory. Dominic Waters had arguably his best game this campaign with 26 points and nine assists for Nahariya, but fouled out in the final frame as Egor Koulechov notched 16 points in the loss.
Koulechov opened the game with a pair of triples while Idan Zalmanson scored a trio of baskets for Jerusalem to keep the game close early, though Nahariya held a 27-24 lead after 10 minutes and a slim 43-42 advantage at halftime.
A back-and-forth third quarter saw Jerusalem still down one (65-64) heading into the final 10 minutes, before an evenly distributed scoring spree and Waters fouling out late allowed Hapoel to earn the comeback triumph.
Elsewhere, Maccabi Haifa downed Maccabi Rishon Lezion 88-79 at the Carmel Mountain.
James Young, with 18 points, led five Greens scorers in double digits, Gregory Vargas added 17 points and eight assists while Roman Sorkin chipped in with 14 points and continues to shine for Daniel Seoane’s squad. Darryl Monroe scored 27 points to lead Rishon in the defeat.
Also, Hapoel Holon needed a big fourth quarter to get by a banged up Hapoel Gilboa/Galil 87-81. Lior Lubin’s squad was already without the injured Jarvis Varnado when it lost Justin Tillman just a minute into the clash, but was able to stay in front through 30 minutes thanks to Jarmar Gulley (26 points) and Edgar Sosa (15 points).
However, Holon’s depth was too much for the Galilee squad to handle as Guy Pnini (23 points) and Marcus Foster (21 points) led the hosts to the victory.
Hapoel Beersheba took out Hapoel Eilat 92-87 thanks to a 12-point fourth quarter by John Petrucelli.
Rami Hadar’s Beersheba started out the game strong with a 30-13 opening 10 minutes but the Red Sea City squad chipped away at the lead throughout the contest until Petrucelli and Steve Zack helped secure the victory.
Petrucelli finished the night with 21 points, DaSean Butler scored 18 points, while T.J. Williams returned from injury to add 16 points in the win. Kyvon Davenport led Eilat with 19 points and veteran point guard Avi Ben Shimol added 16 points in the loss.
Hapoel Tel Aviv defeated Maccabi Ashdod 100-93 for its second win in a row. Jordan Hamilton starred for the Reds with 27 points and eight rebounds, Tomer Ginat added 22 points and Mark Lyons chipped in with 16 points in the win.
Paul Stoll made his Israeli season debut and led Ashdod with 24 points and 10 assists, while LaDontae Henton scored 19 points in the loss.