Maccabi Tel Aviv overcomes Herzliya for tight triumph

Rice stars once again for yellow-and-blue; Haifa, Holon, pull out victories; Eilat goes top.

Maccabi Tel Aviv's Tyrese Rice 370 (photo credit: Adi Avishai)
Maccabi Tel Aviv's Tyrese Rice 370
(photo credit: Adi Avishai)
Maccabi Tel Aviv stood up a to crucial early-season test and came away with a too-close-for-comfort 78-75 victory on Sunday night against Bnei Herzliya in BSL action.
Herzliya was adamant to prove itself as title worthy, while for the yellow-and-blue, there was no more room for mistakes after losing two of the first four games of the season.
Herzliya dominated early proceedings thanks to Ndudi Ebi’s imposing presence (17-12).
However, Tyrese Rice, inspired by his winning basket in Euroleague play Thursday, kept Maccabi in the game.
Herzliya was in great shooting form from behind the arc, helping it to a 35-25 lead.
Maccabi ran 20-10 in the third period (62-55), but Herzliya wouldn’t give up, heading into the final quarter up 64-63.
The final frame was a tight affair, as a Chris Warren three (72-69) was followed by four-straight Shawn James points, which proved enough to seal the win for Maccabi.
Rice ended the game with 21 points for Maccabi.
It seems that normal order has been restored to the BSL.
Meanwhile, in-form Maccabi Haifa, on the back of an impressive Eurocup win, continued its assault on top spot, as it topped a slumping Maccabi Rishon Lezion 87-72.
The difference in quality was evident throughout, as Haifa strolled to 15-4 within four minutes of the game.
However, there was still hope for Rishon – which came in losers of four straight – as Brian Hopkins led 9-0 run to reduce the deficit to 43-35 at the break.
Brian Randle led the Greens with 20 points and eight rebounds, and Moran Rot helped as Haifa ran out to a 57-43 lead.
In the final quarter, it was Donta Smith who starred, finishing with 17 points and 10 rebounds as Haifa took the game beyond Rishon Lezion’s reach.
Hapoel Holon, hoping to bounce back from defeat at Jerusalem on Monday, faced the inconsistent Barak Netanya.
Holon’s superiority was short-lived, as the teams went into the break at 34-31.
There wasn’t much separating the teams until a period of dominance by Holon took the score to 61-51 with three minutes to play.
However, two Kenny Boynton three-pointers put Netanya on top (65-64).
A Shlomi Harush basket sealed the one-point win for Holon after Boynton missed two decisive free-throws.
Excelling for Holon was Brian Asbury with 19 points and 12 rebounds, while Yehu Orland registered 19 points and seven rebounds for Netanya.
Maccabi Ashdod was hoping to find winning ways after falling to three defeats on the trot.
Hapoel Eilat, on the other hand, was dominant throughout its game against Maccabi Ashdod, with Terrence Rodrick contributing 18 points and six assists to spur a 85-79 triumph that catapulted it into first place. For Ashdod, the key man was Marcus Dove with 24 points, nine rebounds and eight steals.
The opening stages were tight, with Nizan Hanochi excelling for Eilat.
The second period saw Eilat running off with a double-digit lead (35-22), thanks to free-scoring Kevin Palmer.
In the third quarter, Ashdod managed to get back into the game, thanks to a Lior Lipshitz three, 58-54.
However, any hopes Ashdod had for an upset were crushed as Eilat run 11-2 to wrap up the win.
There are two games scheduled for Monday, with Hapoel Tel Aviv facing Hapoel Gilboa/Galil and Ness Ziona hosting Hapoel Jerusalem.