Basketball: Maccabi TA edges out Ironi Nahariya

Also on Sunday, Ironi Ramat Gan and Ironi Ashkelon claimed surprise victories.

maccabi tel aviv 298.88 (photo credit: AP [file])
maccabi tel aviv 298.88
(photo credit: AP [file])
Maccabi Tel Aviv left it late on Sunday night, defeating Ironi Nahariya 90-87, thanks to a 12-2 run in the final four minutes of the game. The perennial champion was far from its best throughout the encounter, but the hosts couldn't take advantage and fell to their first defeat of the season. Also on Sunday, relegation favorites Ironi Ramat Gan and Ironi Ashkelon claimed surprise victories, defeating Bnei Hasharon and Maccabi Rishon Lezion, respectively. Hapoel Holon built on its excellent pre-season form on Sunday, trouncing Hapoel Galil Elyon by 22 points. Hapoel Jerusalem hosts Hapoel Afula/Gilboa at Malha Arena in the final game of Matchday 1 on Monday night. Ironi Nahariya 87, Maccabi Tel Aviv 90 David Bluthenthal scored the first points of the game with a basket from beyond the arc. It wasn't long before Maccabi opened up a comfortable lead. The visitors were ahead by eight points (13-5) midway through the first period, but Matan Naor's three-pointer with 15 seconds remaining in the quarter brought Nahariya within two (18-16). Tel Aviv ended the first 10 minutes of the game with a 22-16 lead, after a Nahariya lapse in concentration allowed Bluthenthal to collect an offensive rebound and score as time expired. Maccabi continued to surge forward at the start of the second period with Derrick Sharp's three-pointer giving his team a 12 point cushion (31-19). Neither side managed to open a substantial lead in the third quarter, as they traded baskets throughout the period. Barak Peleg's three with 25 seconds remaining gave Nahariya a 66-63 lead, but the final quarter would begin with the score tied after Sharp beat the buzzer with a basket from beyond the arc. Pledger's basket with four minutes remaining in the game gave Nahariya an 85-78 lead, its biggest of the night. The hosts, however, crumbled in the final minutes of the encounter and Maccabi took full advantage. The yellow-and-blue went on a 12-2 game ending run, led by Cummings' and Sharp's clutch play. Cummings led Maccabi with 18 points, with Nikola Vujcic adding 12. Otis Hill top scored for Nahariya, contributing 22 points. Ironi Ramat Gan 90, Bnei Hasharon 81 Bnei Hasharon raced to an 11-2 lead at the start of the game, but Ramat Gan fought back and eventually pulled off the shock win. After a tight three quarters the hosts were the more composed during the closing stages of the game and Doron Kramer's basket to give them an 83-75 lead clinched the win. Brian Tolbert led Ramat Gan with 18 points, with Bennett Davis and Michael Kuebler each adding 17. Jason Williams led Bnei Hasharon with 19 points. Maccabi Rishon Lezion 91, Ironi Ashkelon 100 Host Rishon was clear favorite ahead of the game, but Ashkelon was the better side throughout and claimed a deserved win. Ashkelon led 50-43 at the break, but Jerel Blassingame's basket in the third period completed a Rishon comeback (66-65). Ashkelon, however, quickly regained its lead and got its campaign off to a winning start. Yuval Naemi led Ashkelon with 25 points, with Juan Mendez scoring 26 points for the losers. Hapoel Galil Elyon 89, Hapoel Holon 111 National League champion Holon got its BSL campaign off to an impressive start, thrashing a helpless Galil at Kfar Blum. Chester Simmons scored 14 of his 17 points in the first period to give Holon a 10-point lead (32-22) after 10 minutes. The visitors continued to dominate in the second quarter and extended their advantage to 60-43 by the break. Moran Rot led Holon with 22 points and seven assists, with Eric Campbell scoring 21 points. Clif Brown stared for the hosts with 31 points and 11 rebounds, with Gili Mosinzon scoring 20 points.