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Maccabi Tel Aviv guard Gal Mekel (left) had 11 points and nine assists in last night’s 94-83 win over Hapoel Tel Aviv and Darrell Williams at the Drive-In Arena. .(Photo by: ADI AVISHAI)
Maccabi tames Hapoel in Tel Aviv derby
Hadar stays perfect as head coach with Pnini propelling yellow-and-blue to comprehensive BSL conquest
Maccabi Tel Aviv improved to 4-0 in the BSL and extended its perfect record under coach Rami Hadar with a sweet derby win on Monday night, beating Hapoel Tel Aviv 94-83 at the Drive-In Arena.

Maccabi entered the game brimming with confidence thanks to two straight Euroleague wins over Galatasaray and Zalgiris Kaunas since the sacking of coach Erez Edelstein last Sunday.

The yellow-and-blue had won its first three BSL games of the campaign under Edelstein and remained the only undefeated team in the league by leading from start to finish on Monday. Hapoel was within striking distance for much of the night, but couldn’t take the lead and dropped to 2-2.

Guy Pnini led five Maccabi players in double figures with 21 points, with Andrew Goudelock adding 18 points for Maccabi, which hit 14-of-31 three-point attempts.

“We knew there would be a good atmosphere and the most important thing was to maintain our focus on the floor,” said Pnini. Darrell Williams had 22 points and 11 rebounds for Hapoel.

Three straight Pnini three-pointers gave Maccabi a flying start, with another triple by Goudelock making it a 10-point game (13-3) with less than four minutes played.

Hapoel was never going to go away without a fight though, with a Richard Howell lay-up bringing the hosts within three points (18-15).

Hapoel still trailed by three points (24-21) entering the second period and Alando Tucker’s three-point play to start the frame leveled the score.

The momentum seemed to be shifting, but Pnini responded with a four-point play at the other end and two consecutive triples by Victor Rudd reestablished a double-digit gap (34-24).

Maccabi still led by 10 points at the break (47-37) and the closest Hapoel would come in the second half was six points (56- 50). Hapoel still believed in its chances despite trailing by nine points (69-60) entering the final 10 minutes, but Maccabi never lost control.

“We were focused but we still have work to do on defense,” said Hadar, who said he is already focused on Wednesday’s Euroleague game against Barcelona. “Had we defended better we would have wrapped up the win earlier.”

Earlier Monday, Hapoel Holon continued its impressive start to the season with an 84-66 win over Maccabi Ashdod. Holon took a five-point lead (60-55) into the final 10 minutes following three tight quarters and clinched the win with an 11-0 run to begin the fourth frame.

Khalif Wyatt had 23 points and seven assists for Holon, which joined Hapoel Jerusalem with the second-best record in the league at 3-1.

Darion Atkins added 19 points and 13 rebounds for the winners, whose only defeat to date came against Maccabi Tel Aviv.

“I wasn’t expecting much after nine days without a game, but that just makes this win more encouraging,” said Holon coach Dan Shamir.

Jake Cohen scored 17 points for Ashdod, which has lost two straight games after winning its first two contests.
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