Mac TA finally enjoys some home comfort

Herzliya no rival for yellow-and-blue in rare Nokia win ahead of crucial clash with Berlin.

Devin Smith (6) (photo credit: ADI AVISHAI)
Devin Smith (6)
(photo credit: ADI AVISHAI)
Maccabi Tel Aviv registered its first victory at Nokia Arena since October on Monday night, cruising to a comfortable 89-73 win over Bnei Herzliya in BSL action.
The yellow-and-blue had lost all three of its home games over all competitions during November, suffering stunning setbacks against Hapoel Tel Aviv in the BSL and versus Cedevita Zagreb and CSKA Moscow in the Euroleague.
Maccabi’s 84-61 defeat to CSKA last Thursday equaled its heaviest- ever home loss in continental competition, but Guy Goodes’s team settled its nerves on Monday against a struggling Herzliya side.
Maccabi was sloppy at the start of the night, allowing the visitors to open an eight-point margin.
However, the hosts scored the final five points of the first quarter to close within three points and seized complete control with a 12-0 run to end the first half (44-32).
Devin Smith was the vocal point of Maccabi’s offense, scoring 18 of his game-high 23 points in the first half. The American forward also took nine rebounds and was named as the game’s MVP.
“We were practicing well in the last couple of days and we want to make this game bleed into the next,” said Smith.
“When we play well in the league it usually helps in the Euroleague. We just wanted to set the tone with tonight’s win.”
Maccabi hosts Alba Berlin on Thursday and can clinch its place in the Top 16 with a victory.
Josh Selby had 18 points for Herzliya, which fell to 3-6 with its third defeat in the past four games.
Also Monday, Hapoel Tel Aviv climbed above .500 for the first time this season, beating Maccabi Rishon Lezion 83-75 at Hadar Yosef Arena to improve to 5-4.
After starting the season at 1-3, Hapoel has won four of its past five games and has given its fans plenty of reasons for optimism ahead of its entrance to its new arena in January.
Rishon had a two-point edge (21-19) after a tight first period, but Hapoel began the second quarter with a 15-2 run (34-23) and never looked back. The hosts still held a double-digit gap (42- 32) at the break, and despite a late Rishon comeback which brought the team within five points, Hapoel held on for the win.
Durand Scott led the winners with 18 points, while Larry O’Bannon and Yancy Gates added 16 points each, with the latter also grabbing 11 rebounds.
Raviv Limonad was also excellent, finishing with 15 points, seven assists and six boards.
Shawn Dowson had 20 points for Rishon, which fell to 6-3 with a second straight defeat.
“We beat a very good and tough team and knew it would be tough until the very end,” said Limonad. “We got the season off to an erratic start but we have been more consistent lately.”