By Amy Samin
Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv defeated Habikaa 88 – 76 in an away game that marked the final game of the second round of the regular Israeli League season. Top scorer for Maccabi was Lior Eliyahu with 18 points and 7 rebounds. Keith Langford had 16 points and Yogev Ohayon contributed 12 points and 7 assists.
Maccabi’s starters were team captain Tal Burstein, Devin Smith, Sofo Schortsanitis, Lior Eliyahu and Yogev Ohayon. Maccabi started out strong and took a 6 – 2 lead two minutes into the period, but Ezequiel Skverer scored a three pointer that put hosts Habikaa within one. Burstein responded with a three of his own as he and Smith combined for nine points to make it 15 – 7 just past the halfway mark in the quarter. Habikaa fought their way back into the game, and the period ended with Maccabi up by three, 25 – 22.
Smith continued to demonstrate his skills early in the second quarter with five straight points, while on defense Maccabi kept Habikaa in check, forcing a shot clock violation. Points by Eliyahu extended Maccabi’s lead to double digits, but Dion Dowell and Habikaa continued to battle, pulling within five points with less than five minutes left in the period. David Blu, Burstein, and Richard Hendrix all scored from the foul line while Langford and Eliyahu excelled on defense. Guy Pnini drained his classic catch and shoot three from the right corner (assist Burstein) and Langford scored as well, and the teams went into the halftime break with Maccabi leading53 – 41.
Points by Blu (assist Ohayon) and Langford (assist Hendrix) extended Maccabi’s lead to fifteen early in the third quarter, 57 – 42. Hendrix scored in the paint and Langford added two free throws, but Paul Delaney and Shmulik Brener responded, closing the gap to 61 – 52 with four minutes remaining in the period. Eliyahu and Ohayon each scored, and Langford added two straight buckets from downtown (assists Blu and Eliyahu) to make it 71 – 54 with a minute left. Points by the hosts finished the period with Maccabi leading 71 – 59.
Ohayon opened the fourth quarter with a trey from the top of the arc, while Maccabi’s defense forced another shot clock violation and nabbed a steal off the hosts. Maccabi’s lead climbed back to fifteen early in the period, 76 – 61, but Habikaa kept their cool and continued to fight. Halfway through the period the score was 78 – 72. Langford broke the run with a dunk and Smith scored in the paint to rebuild the double digit lead, 82 – 72 with just under two minutes left. Points from the foul line for both teams wrapped things up, and Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv got an 88 – 76 win over Habikaa.
Maccabi: Eliyahu 18 points, 7 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 steal; Langford 16 points, 3 rebounds, 2 steals; Ohayon 12 points, 7 assists, 5 rebounds, 2 steals; Smith 11 points, 3 rebounds, 2 steals, 2 assists; Schortsanitis 9 points, 6 rebounds, 1 steal; Burstein 7 points, 5 assists, 3 rebounds, 2 steals, 1 block; Hendrix 6 points, 2 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 blocks; Blu 6 points, 2 rebounds, 1 assist; Pnini 3 points, 1 rebound.
Top scorers for Habikaa: Delaney 22 points; Dowell 18 points.