Tired Mac TA pulls out opening victory over Habika’a

Yellow-and-blue take 1-0 lead in the best-of-five BSL quarterfinal series.

MACCABI TEL AVIV’S Yogev Ohayon 370 (photo credit: Adi Avishai)
MACCABI TEL AVIV’S Yogev Ohayon 370
(photo credit: Adi Avishai)
Maccabi Tel Aviv overcame a weary first half to beat BC Habika’a 99-76 at Nokia Arena on Wednesday night and take a 1-0 lead in the best-of-five BSL quarterfinal series.
Despite playing without its injured star Paul Delaney, Habika’a trailed Maccabi by just five points at halftime (47-42), only to be outscored 32-15 in the third quarter and lose any hope of recording the biggest surprise of the BSL season so far.
“We have a lot of experience playing games every other day and that served us well tonight,” said Maccabi coach David Blatt, who guided his team to the Adriatic League title on Monday.
“We didn’t find it easy in the first half and it took us time to find our rhythm.”
Keith Langford and Yogev Ohayon led six Maccabi players in double figures with 16 points each, while Troy Gillenwater scored 22 for Habika’a, which hosts Game 2 on Monday night.
A 7-0 Habika’a run gave the visitors their first lead of the night (9-8), and despite moving back in front immediately, Maccabi only had a two-point edge (22-20) after 10 minutes.
A 10-1 surge, capped by a Nir Cohen three-pointer, opened a surprise five-point cushion (30-25) for Habika’a, but Tel Aviv was still in the driving seat at the break, with Langford’s three giving the yellow-and-blue a 47-42 advantage at halftime.
Dion Dowell’s triple kept Habika’a within striking distance of Maccabi (54-49) early in the second half, but a 12-0 Tel Aviv run would follow, with Devin Smith’s basket from beyond the arc making it 66-49 midway through the third period.
Habika’a was never going to climb out of such a hole and the final 10 minutes were pure garbage time after David Blu made it a 22-point game (79-57) with the final basket of the third quarter.
On Thursday, Maccabi Ashdod hosts Elitzur Ramle in the fifth and decisive game of the women’s playoff finals.
Ramle failed to close out the series at home in Game 4, losing 67-57 to Ashdod, which is looking to complete an historic league and cup double.
Despite its defeat on Monday, Ramle will be confident of defending its league title after beating Ashdod on the road just last week, surprising Edni Dagan’s team 60-58 in Game 3.