By Amy Samin
Charles Gaines, Carlos Arroyo, Marcus Brown, Dror Hagag and Lior Eliyahu opened for Maccabi, while home team Givat Shmuel’s starting five included Jonhatan Nir, Greg Grays, Roye Berkovitz, Corry Carr and Steffon Bradford.
Arroyo and Eliyahu were the first to score for Maccabi, and after two minutes of play the score was 6 – 2.
In the next two minutes Maccabi would take off on a scoring run complete with dunks by Eliyahu and Gaines to take the score to 14 – 4.
A basket and foul for Bradford put a stop to the party, and the hosts were able to continue chipping away at Maccabi’s lead from the free throw line.
Though Givat Shmuel turned over the ball repeatedly, Maccabi wasn’t able to take advantage and the score was 16 – 11 with 2 minutes left in the period.
Eliyahu, who came back off the bench in place of Omri Casspi, continued to be the main scorer for Maccabi, reaching 14 with a beautiful shot at the buzzer which set the score at 25 – 16 at the end of the first quarter.
Although Givat Shmuel scored first in the second period, a three-pointer by M. Brown (his second of the game) put Maccabi ahead by double digits, 28 – 17 a minute into the quarter.
Brown stayed hot with two straight unanswered buckets, and Maccabi lead 32 – 17 as the teams went into a time-out.
When the teams came back out on the court, Aaron McGhee put in his first minutes in the #15 Maccabi jersey.
The home team was unfazed by the moment, and went on a scoring run of their own with shots by Jermaine Hall, Nir and Grays, closing the gap to 35 – 31 halfway through the period.
Maccabi had trouble getting points on the board, and the hosts completed their comeback into the game at the 8 minute mark, when Carr tied the game at 35.
Itay Greenboim scored at the buzzer to close out the half, 39 – 36 to Givat Shmuel.
The second half opened with Eliyahu scoring for Maccabi, but he quickly got into foul trouble and was sent to the bench.
Casspi, with his first points of the game, gave Maccabi back the lead two minutes into the quarter.
Like in the first quarter, Maccabi took advantage of poor play by the hosts and brought their lead up to 49 – 41 off a shot from outside the arc by Casspi.
Carr, with a three-pointer from the corner at the halfway mark of the period put a stop to Maccabi’s run.
Givat Shmuel began to nibble away at Maccabi’s lead with baskets by Bradford, who had an excellent evening.
Marcus Brown, who drew a foul from his defender while shooting from downtown, put Maccabi up 60 – 48 with two minutes left in the period.
Casspi scored his third three-pointer at the buzzer following two straight threes from Moshe Brener for Givat Shmuel, and the period ended with Maccabi leading, 65 – 59.
Givat Shmuel came out strong at the start of the final quarter, keeping the game close while Maccabi had trouble finding the net.
After a couple of minutes of sloppy play by both teams, Hall scored a layup that closed the score to within two, 67 – 65 with half the period gone.
A drive to the basket by Casspi put an end to Maccabi’s scoring drought, but Bradford’s points from the line gave the hosts their first lead of the quarter, 71 – 70 with three minutes left in the game.
Casspi and Arroyo responded with a pair of three-pointers just before the teams went into time-out.
In the end, the home team couldn’t stand up under the pressure, and Arroyo from the free throw line gave Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv a 77 – 73 victory over Givat Shmuel.
Maccabi: Casspi 20 points; Eliyahu 17 points, 8 rebounds; Arroyo 15 points, 6 assists; M, Brown 15 points; Gaines 6 points; Sharp and Hagag, 2 points each.
Givat Shmuel: Bradford 19 points, 14 rebounds; Hall 15 points; Grays 12 points; Brener 7 points; Nir 6 points; Skverer and Carr, 5 points each; Greenboim 4 points.