Maccabi gets a scare but survives against Netanya 87-85

Maccabi Tel Aviv escaped its first BSL defeat of the season by the skin of its teeth, beating Barak Netanya 87-85.

MACCABI TEL AVIV’S Guy Pnini 311 (photo credit: Adi Avishai)
(photo credit: Adi Avishai)
Maccabi Tel Aviv escaped its first BSL defeat of the season by the skin of its teeth on Monday night, beating Barak Netanya 87-85 at Nokia Arena.
Tel Aviv entered Monday’s game as a massive favorite, especially as the already mediocre Netanya was without top-scorer Adrian Banks.
However, Netanya took a 61-54 margin into the final 10 minutes after outscoring Maccabi 20-8 in the third quarter and led by as many as 10 points early in the fourth frame.
Tel Aviv seized control once more with a 12-0 run, but Netanya never lost touch with the reigning champion and came tantalizingly close to claiming the victory at the end, with Jerome Randle missing a chance to win the game in the dying seconds before Lior Lifshitz squandered an opportunity to force overtime at the buzzer.
“Netanya played superbly.
We weren’t great, but Netanya deserves credit,” said Maccabi coach David Blatt, whose team also survived a scare last week when it won 87-83 at Ironi Ashkelon.
Guy Pnini led Maccabi with 20 points, saving the yellow-and-blue’s blushes with 16 points in the fourth period, including three consecutive three-pointers at one stage.
“Guy’s a winner,” Blatt said. “He’s the kind of player you know will always be there for you when it counts.”
Sofoklis Schortsanitis also scored 20 points while taking eight rebounds, with David Blu adding 14 points.
Only five players scored for Netanya, with Christian Burns contributing 25 points and eight rebounds, and Lior Hakhmon (19), Brian Asbury (18), Randle (17) and Lifshitz (6) netting the rest of the team’s points.
“We had our chances to win the game, but we couldn’t take them,” Netanya coach Danny Franco said.
“Nevertheless, we showed our character tonight and that will help us pick up victories another time.”
A tight first half ended in a 46-41 Maccabi lead, but Asbury capped an excellent third quarter for the visitors and Netanya took a sevenpoint (61-54) cushion into the final frame.
A Lifshitz triple to start the period extended Netanya’s lead to a game-high 10 points, only for Tel Aviv to move back in front with a 12-0 run.
There was little to separate the teams for the remainder of the night, with Lifshitz’s free throws giving the visitors an 85-84 advantage with 43 seconds to play.
A Yogev Ohayon layup put Maccabi back in the lead, and Tel Aviv breathed a sigh of relief after both Randle and Lifshitz missed.