Mac TA cruises by Cedevita for Adriatic title

Maccabi TA managed without Sofoklis Schortsanitis for most of the night’s easy 87-77 win over Cedevita Zagreb in the Adriatic League final at Nokia Arena.

Sofoklis Schortsanitis 370 (photo credit: Adi Avishai)
Sofoklis Schortsanitis 370
(photo credit: Adi Avishai)
Maccabi Tel Aviv added a new piece of silverware to its trophy cabinet on Monday night, thrashing Cedevita Zagreb 87-77 at Nokia Arena to win the Adriatic League for the first time in club history.
Tel Aviv lost in the Adriatic League final the only other time it took part in the competition, in the 2002/03 season, but there was never any danger of that happening on Monday, with the yellow-and-blue dominating from start to finish.
Maccabi began the game with a 7-0 run, capped by a Richard Hendrix dunk, and never looked back.
Keith Langford’s basket took the gap to double-digits (15-5) and two more points by Tel Aviv’s American guard made it 27-11 after 10 minutes, effectively rendering the remainder of the game meaningless.
Maccabi still held a 16-point margin (39-23) at halftime and Cedevita’s late run was of no significance as the hosts cruised to another title.
Langford had 21 points for Tel Aviv, with Richard Hendrix adding 16 points and seven rebounds.
Levour Christopher Warren scored 24 points for Cedevita.
“The players achieved something amazing by coming through this season and winning this title,” said Maccabi coach David Blatt after seeing his team lift its second title of the season following its 80th game of the campaign.
Maccabi will not spend too long celebrating Monday’s triumph, with the yellow-and-blue to host BC Habika’a in Game 1 of its BSL quarterfinal series on Wednesday night.
Maccabi, the No. 1 seed, will be hoping to avoid the fate of No. 2 seed, Hapoel Gilboa/Galil, which lost its series opener, and home-court advantage, to Maccabi Ashdod on Monday night.
Ashdod stuttered its way into the playoffs, but was impressive on the way to a 77-72 victory in Gan Ner.
Gilboa led for much of the first half, but never by much, taking a 34-32 advantage into the break.
Ashdod moved in front at the start of the third frame, and despite leading by as many as seven points at one stage (50-43), was only ahead by two (53-51) with 10 minutes to play.
The pattern repeated itself in the fourth period, with Ashdod pulling ahead, only for the visitors to come right back.
Meir Tapiro’s basket with 5:30 remaining gave the visitors a sevenpoint cushion (65-58), but Courtney Fells soon closed the gap to a single point (65-64).
However, Gilboa could not overhaul Ashdod’s next run, with Tapiro’s threepoint play with 1:11 to go opening a seven-point margin once more (73-66), one from which the hosts could not come back.
Josh Carter scored 24 points for Ashdod, with Tapiro contributing 14 points, nine assists and eight rebounds.
Fells had 26 points for Gilboa, which visits Ashdod in Game 2 next Monday.
“We did excellent tactical work,” said Ashdod coach Ofer Berkowitz. “But this is just the start of the series and Gilboa is a very strong side. They will make adjustments for Game 2 and we will need to be very sharp.”
Ashdod forces Game 5 in women’s finals
Maccabi Ashdod’s dream of claiming a league and State Cup double is still alive after it beat Elitzur Ramle 67-57 on the road on Monday night to tie the women’s playoff finals at 2-2 and force a decisive Game 5.
Ramle got off to a bright start, going on a 17-0 run in the first period and leading 23-12 after one frame.
But Ashdod would fight back, tying the score at 33-33 by the break and held its composure the better of the two teams in the closing moments to send the series to a Game 5 in Ashdod on Thursday.
Plenette Pierson led Ashdod with 25 points and 16 rebounds, while Alana Beard scored 23 for Ramle.
“We played well and regained homecourt advantage,” said Ashdod coach Edni Dagan. “We now want to make history.”