Mac TA refutes report of Durant offer

With yellow-and-blue enjoying local bye, Ashkelon grabs first place; Habika’a wins thriller.

Maccabi TA's David Blu 311 (photo credit: Adi Avishai)
Maccabi TA's David Blu 311
(photo credit: Adi Avishai)
Maccabi Tel Aviv denied Sunday that it has held negotiations with NBA All-Star Kevin Durant after it was reported in the US that the Oklahoma City Thunder forward is weighing several offers from Europe, including from the yellow-and-blue.
According to Yahoo’s Marc Spears, Durant said he has offers from Maccabi Tel Aviv, Valencia in Spain and BBC Bayreuth in Germany.
“I’m right on the fence with playing overseas and I’m about to jump over,” said Durant, who according to the story could sign with a European team as soon as next week, assuming the NBA lockout continues.
However, a senior figure at Maccabi told The Jerusalem Post on Sunday that there is absolutely no truth to the report and that no offer has been made to Durant, who finished fifth in MVP voting in the NBA last season.
Maccabi returned to Israel on Sunday after claiming road wins over Anadolu Efes Istanbul in the Euroleague and Buducnost in the Adriatic League, and although he had no clue where Durant may have come up with the idea that Tel Aviv had made him an offer, coach David Blatt admitted that he would gladly welcome such a player.
“I don’t know where he got that from or where his agent got it, but it is a big compliment that he said he would like to play for Maccabi, although it is completely unfounded,” Blatt said. “If he wants to come and play for Maccabi we will find a place for him. He is one of my favorite players, but I think this is unrealistic.”
Maccabi has a bye in the BSL this week, but three games took place on Sunday, with Hapoel Gilboa/Galil beating Maccabi Rishon Lezion 88-83 on the road, BC Habika’a defeating Bnei Hasharon 76-74 and Ironi Ashkelon edging Hapoel Holon 91-87 in overtime.
On Monday, Maccabi Haifa hosts the only remaining winless team Barak Netanya.
After losing its last two BSL games by a combined 62 points, Bnei Hasharon got the encounter at Ganei Tikva off to an encouraging start leading 20-14 after 10 minutes and 41-32 at the break.
However, a 13-0 Habika’a run put the hosts in front (60- 58) early in the fourth frame and there was nothing to separate the teams after Danilo Pinnock tied the score at 74- 74 with 30 seconds to play.
Tweety Carter had a chance to put the visitors back in the lead, but the Bnei Hasharon guard missed his shot and Pinnock grabbed the rebound.
The forward then raced to the other end and scored the winning basket with 0.5 seconds remaining.
“I was thinking that I would penetrate and someone would come over and I would pass, but I saw there was no time left on the clock and decided to take a little floater and it went in,” said Pinnock, who finished with 19 points, eight rebounds and seven assists.
Rashaun Freeman also scored 19 points, with Dion Dowell adding 10 points and 18 rebounds.
LaceDarius Dunn had 29 points for Bnei Hasharon, with Carter contributing 21 points.
At Rishon, Gilboa opened a comfortable cushion in the second period and held off a late Rishon surge for an impressive win.
New signing Chris Thomas led Gilboa with 22 points, five rebounds and five assists, while Derwin Kitchen had 23 points and 18 rebounds for the hosts.
At Holon, a rollercoaster game came down to the final seconds after a late Ashkelon comeback.
Ashkelon was ahead throughout the first half, but Holon fought back to lead for most of the fourth quarter.
Dwayne Mitchell tied the score from the line for the visitors, and after a Holon turnover, Raviv Limonad missed an opportunity to win the game at the buzzer.
However, Ashkelon would control the extra period and claimed a win that takes it to the top of the standings at least for a week.
Mitchell had 23 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists for Asheklon, with Raymar Morgan adding 21 points and 15 rebounds.
Bryant Dunston led Holon with 23 points and 16 rebounds.