Local Basketball: Casspi turns on the style in Maccabi TA win over Rishon

20-year-old forward scores a career-best 27 points in Maccabi's 96-93 victory at Maccabi Rishon Lezion.

mac Tel Aviv Omri Casspi 248.88 (photo credit: Maya Spitzer)
mac Tel Aviv Omri Casspi 248.88
(photo credit: Maya Spitzer)
Omri Casspi's superb scoring night on Monday ensured Maccabi Tel Aviv maintained its perfect BSL record in 2009, improving to 10-0. The 20-year-old forward scored a career-best 27 points in Maccabi's 96-93 victory at Maccabi Rishon Lezion, hitting six of seven shots from two-point range, three of five from beyond the arc and six of seven from the free-throw line. Casspi also added four rebounds and four assists, and picked a great time for his excellent performance, with the Atlanta Hawks' assistant general manager and director of player personal, Dave Pendergraft, present in the arena. Atlanta has the 19th pick in the upcoming NBA draft and Casspi is reportedly one of the team's main targets. "This gives me a lot of motivation," Casspi said of playing in front of Pendergraft. "Otherwise it has no effect on me as I always try and make my team better. "I'm fully focused on my team's success and I want to stay here next year as well. If there are developments in the US over the summer, then maybe things will change." Carlos Arroyo added 15 points and five assists for Maccabi, with Marcus Brown and Aaron McGhee scoring 14 points each. D'or Fischer made his first appearance since being attacked outside a Tel Aviv nightclub three weeks ago, playing four minutes and scoring three points. On Monday an indictment was filed against three men who were allegedly involved in attacking Fischer. Rishon got 21 points, eight rebounds and six assists from Demarco Johnson, but the defeat leaves it just two points ahead of rock-bottom Ironi Kiryat Ata. A tight first period ended in a 27-26 Rishon lead after Johnson scored the final points of the quarter, but Maccabi seized control of the encounter in the second period. The visitors went in front and led by as many as 12 points (43-31) at one stage after a Brown three-pointer. Rishon closed to within 50-45 at the break and Maccabi's lackluster performance continued to cost it in the third quarter. The hosts completely erased the gap and Larry O'Bannon's basket to beat the third period buzzer gave Rishon a 70-69 advantage with 10 minutes to play. A Gili Mossinson three at the beginning of the final quarter extended Rishon's margin to five points (76-71), but Tel Aviv always remained close behind and a Casspi three-point move with 2.25 to play, gave the visitors a 90-88 lead they wouldn't relinquish.