Local Hoops: Late threes push Mac TA over Ironi Nahariya

Team grinds out last-minute victory despite absence of Vujcic, Bynum and Arnold.

Mac TA celebrate 298.88 (photo credit: AP)
Mac TA celebrate 298.88
(photo credit: AP)
Maccabi Tel Aviv improved its perfect BSL record to 13-0 on Sunday night by grinding out a 101-91 victory over host Ironi Nahariya. Tel Aviv needed a fourth-quarter surge for the third straight week to record the win and once again was forced to fight for a league victory in what used to be uncharacteristic fashion. The Euroleague runner-up in 2006 was in disarray for large parts of the game, allowing a sub-par Nahariya side to push the team until the final minutes and almost snatch away the win. Maccabi had to manage without Nikola Vujcic for almost the entire game and was also forced to play without Will Bynum and Jamie Arnold for the full 40 minutes. Yotam Halperin and Sharon Shason stepped up for Maccabi, scoring 17 points each. Raviv Limonad and Jeff Greer each contributed 23 points for Nahariya. Eight points by Greer in the first two minutes of the game gave Nahariya a 10-5 lead. A 12-0 Maccabi run in the subsequent minutes put the visitors in control. Lior Eliyahu's lay-in with four minutes left in the period opened a 21-12 advantage for Maccabi. Greer, who ended the first period with 14 points, made sure his team stayed within reach of Tel Aviv, and the quarter ended with Maccabi ahead 28-23. Vedran Vukusic's three at the start of the second period brought Nahariya to within four points. Nine unanswered points for Tel Aviv ensured the club remained comfortably ahead. Nahariya staged a comeback in the following minutes as it improved a soft defense and cut Maccabi's lead to three points. Maccabi failed to score a single point over a span of more than four minutes, and Greer's layup at the end of the first half sent the teams into halftime with Maccabi leading 47-44. Limonad's three-pointer two minutes into the second half tied the score and Amit Ben-David's jump shot gave Nahariya a 53-51 lead. Ironi continued to hold the advantage in the following minutes but a 10-1 Tel Aviv run, which was capped by a Shason three, gave Maccabi a 65-60 lead. Nahariya fought back and a Juan Mendez three at the end of the third quarter gave the hosts a three-point lead going into the fourth period. The game remained close for the next five minutes, but three baskets from beyond the arc by Goran Jeretin over the next three minutes broke Nahariya and made sure Tel Aviv remained undefeated for another week. Also Sunday, Bnei Hasharon broke out of its three-game slide and defeated Elitzur Ashkelon 91-71 behind 23 points by Lee Nailon. Hapoel Galil Elyon-Golan denied Hapoel Afula/Giloba its first winning streak of the season by winning 96-95 and continuing its march up the standings. Ironi Ramat Gan recorded its first win in three weeks, defeating Maccabi Rishon Lezion 92-88 at Zisman Arena.