Maccabi running on all cylinders early

TA coasts 95-60 at Gan Ner; Habika’a takes first BSL game 81-80 in OT over Haifa.

David Blatt 311 (photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
David Blatt 311
(photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
Maccabi Tel Aviv began its 2011/12 BSL campaign where it left off last season, thrashing Hapoel Gilboa/Galil 95- 60 in Gan Ner on Sunday night.
The encounter was even more one sided than last season’s Final Four title game, which Maccabi won by 27 points.
There was, however, plenty of exciting action in the night’s three other games, with Hapoel Holon edging Maccabi Rishon Lezion 87-83, BC Habika’a beating Maccabi Haifa 81-80 in overtime and Ironi Ashkelon defeating Maccabi Ashdod 89-79.
Hapoel Jerusalem opens its season on Monday when it hosts Bnei Hasharon.
At Gan Ner, Tel Aviv scored 17 of the night’s first 20 points, and its victory was as good as guaranteed after it opened a 29-9 margin by the end of the first period.
Gilboa never even threatened to mount a comeback and Maccabi coach David Blatt could use the rest of the game to continue to prepare his team for its Euroleague opener at Milano on Thursday.
“We were sharp and played good, fast and aggressive basketball,” Blatt said.
“We did what we had to do and from that standpoint this was a good preparation for the game in Milano. However, we will be playing a completely different level of opposition on Thursday.”
David Blu had 21 points for Maccabi, with Devin Smith and Lior Eliyahu adding 17 and 14 points, respectively.
Ido Kozikaro scored 17 points for Gilboa, which was crushed once more after losing by 34 points in its Chance Cup quarterfinal against Hapoel Holon last week.
Despite playing for the fourth time in seven days, Hapoel Holon continued its impressive play from last week’s preseason Chance Cup on Sunday, beating Maccabi Rishon Lezion 87-83.
There was little to separate the teams in the first half, with Rishon leading 38-36 at the break. The visitors extended their gap to double digits in the third period (52-42), but Holon came right back and tied the game at 68-68 with just over five minutes to play in the game.
However, Holon would crucially go on a 10-1 run in the next two minutes, and despite Rishon’s best efforts, the hosts held on for a confidence-boosting win.
Ron Lewis scored 25 points for Holon, with Patrick Sullivan adding 14 and Bryant Dunston contributing 12 points and 13 rebounds.
Effi Birenboim was completely dependent on two players, with Brandon Bowman and Joe Crawford scoring almost 70 percent of Rishon’s points.
Bowman had 30 points, including five of five from three-point range, while Crawford scored 28 points.
In the closest game of the night, Habika’a got life in the BSL off to a winning start thanks to Dion Dowell’s basket with 11 seconds to play.
Haifa led for much of the game, but Habika’a moved in front with four minutes to play, only for Sean Williams to send the encounter into overtime with a dunk with just four seconds left.
However, the newly-promoted Habika’a would still clinch the win it so desperately desired after Dowell’s clutch long-range jumper and Jeremy Wise’s miss at the buzzer.
Paul Delaney led Habika’a with 24 points, with Rashaun Freeman contributing 16 points and 12 rebounds.
Sylven Landesberg and Carlos Powell had 21 points each for Haifa.
Also Sunday, Raviv Limonad marked his return to Israel after a season at Menorca in Spain with an outstanding statistical line in Ashkelon’s impressive victory at Ashdod.
Limonad scored 24 points, hitting 11 of 12 shots, while also grabbing eight rebounds, recording eight steals and handing out seven assists, all in just 29 minutes on court.
Raymar Morgan, who only joined the team last week, added 21 points, with Ramel Bradley scoring 31 for Ashdod, which led 25-16 after 10 minutes, but was outscored 54-33 in the second and third quarters combined.