By Amy Samin
Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv has achieved one of its goals for the season, winning the Israeli Cup for the 38th time in the club’s history after defeating Barak Netanya 106 – 70.
Guy Pnini was on fire, scoring 21 points (5 three-pointers) and making 8 assists.
Sofoklis Schortsanitis scored 16, Mačvan added 13.
Pnini, Sofo, Jeremy Pargo, Lior Eliyahu and Doron Perkins started the game for Maccabi, facing off against Adrian Banks, Lior Segev, Romeo Travis, Elton Brown and Shmulik Brener.
Maccabi got the game off to a fast start, and took a 6 – 1 lead after a minute and a half thanks to points under the basket by Sofo and a three from Perk at the top of the arc.
Maccabi’s defense made life difficult for Netanya, employing a full court press and keeping them away from the basket.
Pnini’s first shot from downtown came after three and a half minutes and gave Maccabi a 13 – 6 lead.
A steal by Sofo resulted in points by Eliyahu (assist by co-captain Tal Burstein) at the other end; Maccabi led 17 – 6 at the halfway mark.
David Blu’s catch-and-shoot at the two minute mark made it 22 – 10.
Banks put Netanya within eight just before time ran out, and the first period ended with Maccabi leading 22 – 14.
Blu opened the second quarter just the way the fans like it, with another three pointer from the corner.
Sofo and Perk added points, then Pnini scored five points in quick succession (three from the right wing following a steal by Maccabi, and a spin and in on the inbounds) which extended Maccabi’s lead to twenty, 34 – 14 after three and a half minutes in the period.
The defense was as much on fire as the offense, with traps forcing turnovers and Perkins rejecting Travis twice in the same play.
Pargo scored off a drive in the lane, Guy added another three from the left corner, and Perk dropped in a spectacular layup to make it 41 – 16 with three minutes left in the half.
Netanya scored from the charity stripe, but so did Milan Mačvan who replaced Richard Hendrix after the latter was charged with his third foul.
As usual, Maccabi’s defense worked all the harder the bigger their lead got, and the team from Tel Aviv forced an 8 second backcourt violation on Netanya.
Tony Washam and Banks scored for Netanya to narrow the gap slightly, but Blu drained two more shots from outside the arc and the half ended with Maccabi leading 49 – 26.
Maccabi continued to dominate the game at the start of the second half, with Sofo scoring five points in the first minute and a half.
Netanya tried to bring the deficit below twenty, but Pnini scored eight straight to deny them, making it 63 – 34.
Sofo scored four quick points to put Maccabi up 67 – 38 with four minutes left in the period.
Tempers flared and an altercation broke out between the teams.
When the dust finally settled, four players were sent to the locker room: Blu and Schortsanitis for Maccabi, and Travis and Banks for Netanya.
Hendrix came in for Sofo and in the next two minutes scored a free throw and two dunks, and pulled down three defensive rebounds, giving Maccabi a 74 – 42 lead with two minutes left in the quarter.
The forward was then charged with his fourth foul and was replaced by Mačvan, who soon scored to make it 77 – 44.
The period finally ended with the score 78 – 46, Maccabi.
Maccabi continued to look sharp at the start of the fourth quarter, with Mačvan scoring twice in the paint and once from outside the arc, while Burstein added three from downtown and Pnini dropped in a fade-away.
After four minutes the score was 90 – 53.
Brener and company struggled to keep from disappearing completely, while Pargo and Eliyahu scored to make it 94 – 60 with four minutes remaining.
Team captain Derrick Sharp entered the game and immediately started doing what he does best. The Sharpshooter first scored from outside the arc on the right side, then added two from the foul line.
But Sharp wasn’t through: he added another three off a catch-and-shoot to make it 103 – 62, Maccabi with just under two minutes left on the clock.
When time ran out, Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv had once again become Israeli Cup champions, in a 106 – 70 victory over Barak Netanya.
Maccabi: Pnini 21 points, 8 assists; Schortsanitis 16 points; Mačvan 13 points; Eliyahu 11 points, 6 rebounds; Blu 11 points; Perkins 8 points, 7 assists, 6 rebounds, 3 blocks); Sharp 8 points; Hendrix, Burstein and Pargo 6 points each.