By Amy Samin
In the ninth week of Lotto League play, Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv shook the dust of Europe off their Nikes and defeated Maccabi Rishon Lezion in a tough away game, 76 – 75. The game-winning shot was scored by Devin Smith with 1.3 seconds left. Keith Langford was Maccabi’s high scorer yet again, this time with 17 points. Lior Eliyahu and Shawn James had 12 points each, and Smith’s total was 11 points. Next up: Thursday’s crucial home game against Anadolu Efes of Istanbul in a battle for second place in Group C of the Euroleague.
Blatt’s starting five were Smith, Langford, Eliyahu, James, and Yogev Ohayon. A three pointer by Ohayon opened the game, and points in the paint from James and from the foul line by Langford gave Maccabi a 6 – 2 lead after two and a half minutes. But there was a fire in the kitchen - Derwin Kitchen that is, whose hot hand earned him 9 points by the end of the period and kept the home team close. Brandon Bowman tied the score at 16 with a minute and a half left in the period, but Richard Hendrix came into the game for Maccabi and scored (assist David Blu) to put the visitors back on top. Points by Blu finished the period with Maccabi leading 20 – 18.
The roller coaster ride began a minute into the second quarter, with Rishon Lezion taking the lead off points by Joe Crawford, 22 – 21. Ohayon’s layup was answered by points from Adrian Uter for the hosts, as was Hendrix’s pair from the charity stripe. Blu scored a deuce and a trey and team captain Tal Burstein added two more; halfway through the period Maccabi led 32 – 28. Crawford and Kitchen continue to carry the home team, retaking the lead with just under two minutes left in the half, 37 – 33. Layups by Langford and James and a point from the free throw line put Maccabi up by one, 38 – 37 with :12 on the clock, but Crawford snuck in another bucket to send the teams into the halftime break with Rishon Lezion leading 39 – 38.
Ohayon delivered a classic alley oop to Langford early in the third quarter, but Crawford and Uter quickly responded to reclaim the lead. Ohayon dished again, to James this time, and the center paid it forward by dropping a dime on Eliyahu to put Maccabi up 44 – 42, two minutes into the period. Crawford tied things up but was answered by Eliyahu; the same thing happened when Uter scored less than a minute later. But Eliyahu’s third bucket of the quarter was followed by six straight points by the hosts, who made it 52 – 48 midway through the period. Hendrix delivered a bucket and 1 to put Maccabi within one, 52 – 51, but the home team clung to the lead until two straight baskets by Smith tied things up, and Eliyahu scored the go-ahead points as the clock ran down on the third quarter, which ended with Maccabi leading 58 – 56.
Eliyahu scored at the start of the fourth quarter and points by James (off a slick fake shot/pass by Smith) gave Maccabi a six point lead, 62 – 56 after a minute of play in the period. Kitchen and Bowman helped Rishon Lezion battle back to 62 – 60, but Langford and Smith re-extended Maccabi’s lead. Crawford managed to tie the score at 67 from the charity stripe with just under four and a half minutes left in the game, and a minute later the home team went up 71 – 69. Points by Kitchen stretched the lead to four with just under two minutes on the clock, but Langford scored twice - once off a great assist from Ohayon, the other on a coast-to-coast trip with an and 1 tacked on to put Maccabi within one, 75 – 74 with :50 left. Heeding the exhortations of assistant coach Derrick Sharp, Maccabi came out of a time out determined to put the defensive stop on Rishon Lezion, and forced a shot clock violation on the home team that put the ball in Maccabi’s hands with :25 left. A drive in the lane by Smith gave Maccabi a one point lead with 1.3 on the clock, and the defense made sure the score stayed that way. Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv defeated Maccabi Rishon Lezion 76 – 75 with skill, guts, and determination and rises to a 7 – 1 record in the Israeli Lotto League.
Maccabi: Langford 17 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal, 1 block; Eliyahu 12 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal, 1 block; James 12 points, 4 rebounds, 2 steals, 2 assists, 1 block; Smith 11 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal; Hendrix 8 points, 2 rebounds; Blu 7 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists; Ohayon 7 points, 4 assists, 2 rebounds, 1 steal; Burstein 2 points, 1 assist, 1 steal.
Top Scorers for Rishon Lezion: Kitchen and Crawford 17 points each; Bowman 16 points.