Basketball: Mac TA loses to Bnei Hasharon, 83-78

New season, same old result as Maccabi loses to team that beat it three times last year.

maccabi tel aviv 298.88 (photo credit: AP)
maccabi tel aviv 298.88
(photo credit: AP)
Maccabi Tel Aviv fell to its second BSL defeat of the season on Sunday, losing 83-78 to Bnei Hasharon in Ra'anana. In Pini Gershon's first two league games since returning to the club Maccabi thrashed its opponents by a combined 63 points, but that was against two of the BSL's weaker sides and not Bnei Hasharon, which beat Tel Aviv three times last season. Maccabi controlled the first half, but led by a mere three points (40-37) at the break, and allowed Bnei Hasharon to surge into the lead in the decisive moments. "This is a great victory. Nobody gave us a chance before the game," Bnei Hasharon coach Ariel Beit-Halachmi said. Cookie Belcher scored 22 points for the winners, with Meir Tapiro back to his good old self after a tough period, scoring 16 points and passing four assists. Ugonna Onyekwe and Erez Katz scored 12 points each, with Ousmane Cisse adding 10 points and 10 rebounds. Carlos Arroyo had 21 points, seven rebounds and seven assists for Maccabi, which also got 20 points and nine rebounds from Lior Eliyahu. Maccabi which was playing without D'or Fischer, who will miss the next three weeks after breaking a finger in last Thursday's Euroleague game at Avellino, scored at will at the start of the encounter, and Eliyahu's sixth point of the night opened an early 14-5 lead. The hosts had no answer to Tel Aviv's in-form forward and an Omri Casspi three-pointer gave the visitors a 23-16 margin after 10 minutes. Maccabi maintained its lead almost effortlessly for most of the second period, but Bnei Hasharon was never too far behind and a Tapiro basket from beyond the halfway line at the buzzer meant the team trailed by just three points (40-37) at the break. Tapiro's miracle shot proved to be a momentum-shifter, with the hosts scoring the first four points of the second half to lead for the first time in the game. Belcher's hot hand saw Bnei Hasharon extend the gap to seven points (58-51) with just over three minutes to play in the third quarter, but an Arroyo three to end the period tied the score at 61-61. Another Arroyo triple in the early stages of the final period gave Maccabi a five point margin (68-63), but Bnei Hasharon always remained within striking distance. A Cisse jumper brought the hosts within a single point (74-73) with two minutes to play, and two more points by the center 50 seconds later tied the score (77-77). Maccabi was losing its head as the score got closer and found itself two points down with 46 seconds to play after two Tapiro free throws (79-77). A Yaniv Green point from the line cut the deficit to one point, but Erez Katz hit a clutch three with 10 seconds to play and clinched Bnei Hasharon's victory. Also Sunday, Maccabi Haifa won its third straight game, defeating Maccabi Givat Shmuel 76-60 on the road. Ido Kozikaro scored 17 points for Haifa, which also got 13 points from Brookes Sales and a double-double of 11 points and 10 rebounds from Devon Jefferson. Cory Carr scored 15 points for Givat Shmuel, which has now lost four consecutive games. Hapoel Holon scored over 100 points for just the second time this season on Sunday, thrashing Ironi Kiryat Ata 104-68 on the road. Deron Washington led six Holon players in double-figures, scoring 20 points and pulling 10 rebounds, with Uri Kukia adding 13 points and 12 boards. Vladi Ermichin scored 16 points for Kiryat Ata, which has lost seven straight games. Ironi Ramat Gan claimed a third straight victory under coach Amir Uzi, beating Ironi Ashkelon 91-85 on the road. Carmelo Lee scored 24 points for the winners, with Steve Burtt scoring 21 points for the hosts. On Monday, Ironi Nahariya hosts Hapoel Galil Elyon/Gilboa.