Basketball: Bluthenthal leads Maccabi to victory

Basketball Bluthenthal

david bluthenthal 248.88 (photo credit: AP)
david bluthenthal 248.88
(photo credit: AP)
A sensational shooting display by David Bluthenthal gave Maccabi Tel Aviv a 98-91 victory over Hapoel Gilboa/Galil at Gan Ner on Sunday night, improving Maccabi's perfect start to the season to 5-0 and handing the hosts their first loss of the BSL campaign. Gilboa kept pace with Maccabi over the first three quarters of the game and held a two-point lead at the start of the fourth period. However, after entering the fourth quarter with only two points, Bluthenthal scored 13 in just over two minutes to put Tel Aviv in a commanding position and ended the encounter with 20 points, hitting every shot he took on the night. The sharp-shooter scored four-of-four from beyond the arc, three-of-three from two-point range and two-of-two from the free-throw line. "It was a team effort," Bluthenthal said modestly after the game. "I just try and stay calm and do my job." Alan Anderson led Maccabi with 21 points, with Guy Pnini adding 19 points and six assists. Gilboa outrebounded Tel Aviv 38-29, but Maccabi was never going to lose in a night it hit an astonishing 15 of 19 shots from three-point range. "The first half was like a summer league game, but in the second we played better defense and that won us the encounter," Tel Aviv coach Pini Gershon said.  Gilboa coach and former Maccabi boss, Oded Katash, bemoaned his team's inability to stop the yellow-and-blue's offensive play. "We found it very difficult to stop them on defense," Katash said. "They played smart basketball. I'm very proud of my team. We were in the game, but we lost concentration for three minutes and that loses you the game against Maccabi." Jeremy Pargo was his usual electrifying self for Gilboa, scoring 24 points. Brian Randle added 20 points and 11 rebounds, with Elishay Kadir contributing 16 points and 10 rebounds. The hosts came out of the gate flying at Gan Ner, with Kadir proving an unlikely source of points under the basket. While most teams prefer to slow down the game when they face Maccabi, Katash's Glboa dictated an up-tempo pace and at one point seemed to be paying the price for it. Four straight Pnini points from the free-throw line opened a 25-18 Tel Aviv lead and the Israeli forward's buzzer-beating jumper gave the visitors a 27-23 margin at the end of the first period. Gilboa erased the remainder of the gap at the start of the second quarter and the lead exchanged hands time and again in the final five minutes of the first half. Pargo's basket in the final minute of the period gave Hapoel a 54-50 advantage, but Andrew Wisniewski made sure the encounter remained evenly poised at the break, hitting a three to end the first half (54-53). D'or Fischer's basket from an offensive rebound opened a seven-point Tel Aviv gap (65-58) at the beginning of the second half, but Gilboa came right back and Pargo tied the score (67-67). Tel Aviv took a two-point lead into the fourth quarter (73-71), but Avishai Gordon's triple at the start of the period gave Gilboa a 75-73 advantage. However, Bluthenthal took control of the game in the subsequent minutes, scoring 10 straight points to put Maccabi in the driving seat. The hosts had no answer for the red-hot shooter and there was only going to be one winner after Anderson gave Tel Aviv its biggest gap of the game midway through the quarter (89-78). Also Sunday, Maccabi Rishon Lezion claimed its first win of the season, beating Hapoel Holon 83-76 on the road. Both Rishon and Holon entered the game with a 0-4 record, and Hapoel is still searching for its first victory of the campaign, despite leading for the vast majority of the encounter. Rishon seized control of the game in the final five minutes, and coach Effi Birenboim can finally breathe a sigh of relief. Dalron Johnson scored 22 points and new signing Aaron McGhee added 20 for Rishon, with Meir Tapiro contributing 13 points and 12 assists. Dwayne Mitchell and Titus Ivory each scored 15 points for the 0-5 Holon. Meanwhile, Gur Porat's late basket gave Hapoel Afula an 87-86 victory at Ironi Ramat Gan. Justin Dentmon scored 24 points for Afula, with Julian Khazzouh scoring 20 points and grabbing 10 rebounds for Ramat Gan, which remains winless. Also Sunday, Ironi Ashkelon won for the third time in four games, with Moran Rot and Corry Carr each scoring 20 points in the 85-79 victory at Ironi Nahariya. On Monday, Bnei Hasharon hosts Maccabi Haifa in the final game of the weekend.