Yellow-and-blue extends perfect BSL start

Fourth-quarter surge enough for Mac TA to claim comfortable triumph over struggling Haifa.

Maccabi Tel Aviv Guard Norris Cole  (photo credit: ADI AVISHAI)
Maccabi Tel Aviv Guard Norris Cole
(photo credit: ADI AVISHAI)
Maccabi Tel Aviv remained the only unbeaten team in the BSL by improving to 4-0 on Monday night, defeating Maccabi Haifa 83-62 at Yad Eliyahu Arena.
However, there was little other good news for the yellow-and-blue, which only pulled ahead in the final 10 minutes, and experienced some anxious moments when Norris Cole went down with a shoulder injury.
Cole, who is averaging 14.0 points per game in the Euroleague to date, is hopeful he will be fit for Thursday’s continental clash against Olimpia Milano at Yad Eliyahu. After opening its Euroleague campaign with two straight wins, Maccabi dropped to 2-2 last week with two losses over three days.
Haifa scored the first seven points on Monday, but Maccabi quickly tied the score and the first half ended in a threepoint Tel Aviv lead (37-34).
The teams were still separated by just five points (56-51) with 10 minutes to play, but the yellow-and-blue would find its range and clinch the victory with an 11-2 run (74-59) capped by a Jonah Bolden three-pointer.
“It is not easy to play against us for 40 minutes in this league with all of our rotation,” explained Maccabi coach Neven Spahija.
Bolden finished with 20 points and five rebounds, with Pierre Jackson and Jake Cohen adding 10 points each.
“We wanted to be aggressive from the beginning, but we started the first quarter slow,” said Bolden. “I got my groove and have got a feeling of my teammates and I believe in myself with all confidence.”
Angel Rodriguez had 14 points for Haifa, which fell to 1-3. After reaching the BSL final last season, Haifa has gotten 2017/18 off to a worrying start. It began its BSL campaign later than the rest of the league due to its NBA tour and its only win has come against the newly-promoted Ironi Ness Ziona. Haifa’s three defeats have come by an average 24.3 points per game.
Earlier Monday, Maccabi Rishon Lezion registered its third straight win, and second in four days, improving to 3-1 with an 85-71 win over Ironi Ness Ziona. After thrashing Maccabi Haifa by 23 points on Friday, Rishon opened an early double-digit margin in Ness Ziona and never looked back. The visitors were ahead by 14 points (49-35) at the break and cruised in the second half. Jason Sigers scored 22 points for Rishon, with Murphy Holloway adding 18 points and 12 rebounds.
Daequan Cook netted 22 points for Ness Ziona, which fell to 1-3.
On Tuesday, Hapoel Holon looks to get off the mark in the FIBA Champions League after getting back on track in the BSL. Holon moved to 2-2 in local league action with Saturday’s 88-81 win over Hapoel Gilboa/Galil after opening the season with two straight losses.
After steadying the ship in the BSL, Holon turns its focus to picking up a first win in continental play. Holon has lost its first three games and visits Karsiyaka in Turkey on Tuesday.
“We are facing a tough team and we are hoping to continue and improve on the positives from the past week,” said Holon coach Dan Shamir.
Shamir will have new forward Glen Rice Jr. at his disposal for the first time, with Holon releasing Jabril Trawick after he struggled to settle at the club.
Rice will be playing in Europe for the first time and spending his professional career until this stage in the NBA Development League, the Philippines, while also making 16 appearances in the NBA for the Washington Wizards.