Mac TA cruises in BSL, but Barca looms just ahead

"The game on Thursday against Barca will be of a completely different level," Blatt says after yellow-and-blue thump Hapoel Gilboa/Galil.

Maccabi Tel Aviv teammates (photo credit: Adi Avishai)
Maccabi Tel Aviv teammates
(photo credit: Adi Avishai)
Maccabi Tel Aviv warmed-up for Thursday’s crucial Euroleague showdown with Barcelona by crushing Hapoel Gilboa/Galil for its 13th straight BSL win on Sunday night, while Hapoel Tel Aviv and Hapoel Holon both ended slumps by upsetting two of the league’s top teams.
A 20-0 run in the second quarter effectively clinched Maccabi’s win in Gan Ner, opening a 50-25 lead from which Gilboa was never going to return, with the visitors ultimately winning 91-56.
“After every high there is almost inevitably a low and a let down,” said Maccabi coach David Blatt, whose team won its 40th State Cup on Thursday.
“However, we managed to overcome that. The game on Thursday against Barca will be of a completely different level, to say the least. We will be facing the strongest team in Europe today, but we have proven that at home we can compete with any team.”
Nik Caner-Medley had 19 points for Maccabi, with Rakim Sanders scoring 13 for Gilboa.
After sliding down the standings with five defeats in its previous six games, Hapoel Tel Aviv bounced back on Sunday with a dramatic 78-77 win against Maccabi Haifa in Romema.
Hapoel led throughout the first half, but had just a fourpoint edge (43-39) at the break. The visitors still held a slender margin (63-59) entering the final frame, but a 10-0 Haifa run capped by a Gal Mekel basket tied the score at 68-68. A Pat Calathes basket completed Haifa’s comeback (77-76), but Bar Timor scored at the other end and Hapoel breathed a huge sigh of relief after Paul Stoll missed a chance to win the game for the Greens at the buzzer.
Demontez Stitt had 26 points for Hapoel, with Curtis Kelly adding 13 points.
Donta Smith scored 19 for Haifa, which failed to recover from Thursday’s cup final defeat to Maccabi Tel Aviv.
Hapoel Eilat was in a commanding position at Holon after one quarter, leading 28-15.
However, the hosts closed to within two points (35-33) by halftime and outscored Eilat 24-13 in the third period to take a nine-point gap into the final 10 minutes, a lead they wouldn’t squander en route to a 74-63 triumph.
Frank Hassell had 24 points and 17 boards for Holon, with Afik Nissim scoring 19 for Eilat.
Also Sunday, Barak Netanya edged Maccabi Rishon Lezion 75-73.
Rishon opened a seemingly comfortable 30-13 margin after 10 minutes and still held a 15-point cushion (54- 39) midway through the third quarter.
However, Netanya ended the period with a 21-6 run (60-59) and claimed the win thanks to Raymar Morgan’s basket with 17 seconds to play after a tight fourth frame.
Morgan ended the night with 23 points, while Marco Killingsworth contributed 15 points and 10 rebounds.
Lazeric Jones, who missed a chance to win the game with three seconds to play, had 20 points for Rishon, with Julian Wright adding 17 points and 15 boards.
On Monday, Hapoel Jerusalem hosts Bnei Herzliya and Ironi Ashkelon plays Maccabi Ashdod.