Maccabi Tel Aviv takes Chance Cup

Yellow-and-blue holds off feisty Holon in second half 78-74 to win preseason tourney.

Maccabi Tel Aviv's Yogev Ohayon 311 (photo credit: Maccabi Tel Aviv website)
Maccabi Tel Aviv's Yogev Ohayon 311
(photo credit: Maccabi Tel Aviv website)
Maccabi Tel Aviv completed a perfect preseason on Thursday night, beating Hapoel Holon 78-74 in the final of the Chance Cup at Malha Arena.
Maccabi, which has also begun the Adriatic League with three straight wins, opens its BSL season at Hapoel Gilboa/Galil on Sunday night before getting its Euroleague campaign underway at Milano on Thursday.
Holon surprisingly gave Maccabi a run for its money for much of the final, trailing by a mere six points (41-35) at the break. Tel Aviv opened a 17-point lead (61-44) in the third period, but to its credit, Holon never gave up the chase and forced Maccabi to battle until the final seconds before clinching the win.
Lior Eliyahu scored 14 points for Maccabi, with Richard Hendrix adding 12 points and nine rebounds for Tel Aviv, which shot just five of 19 from three-point range.
Dan Grunfeld had 20 points for Holon, with Ron Lewis and Bryant Dunston adding 15 points each.
After needing no more than five minutes to all but clinch its wins in the competition’s quarters and semis, Maccabi actually found itself trailing for the first five minutes of Thursday’s encounter.
Holon denied Tel Aviv easy baskets and Grunfeld’s three-pointer gave Dan Shamir’s well-prepared team an early 7- 2 lead.
However, Maccabi took control with a 12-2 run capped by an Eliyahu dunk, and David Blu’s jumper increased the yellow-and-blue’s gap to nine points (25- 16) after 10 minutes.
A Blu three at the start of the second quarter extended the margin to double-figures (30-20), but just when it seemed that Tel Aviv was about to open an unassailable lead, Holon mounted a surprising fight back and trailed by just six points (41-35) at the break.
Holon knew that Maccabi would be looking to get the second half off to a fast start, but it could still do little to nothing to slow down the yellow- and-blue, with Sofoklis Schortsanitis’s free throws giving Tel Aviv a 17-point cushion (61-44) midway through the period.
After scoring 20 points in the first five minutes of the half, Maccabi added just another four points until the end of the quarter. But Holon struggled to find a way past David Blatt’s defense, and Tel Aviv was comfortably ahead by 13 points (65-52) with 10 minutes to play.
Holon went on an 8-0 run to close to within seven points (73-66) with 3:30 to play following a Lewis basket, but Shamir’s men could not complete the comeback, and Maccabi held on for its second straight preseason tournament victory.