By Amy Samin
Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv defeated Barak Netanya 117 – 66 in the quarterfinals of the Israeli Lotto League’s Chance Cup tournament in Malha Arena in Jerusalem. No fewer than seven players scored in double digits and above them all (in more ways than one) was center Shawn James, who claimed 16 points and 13 rebounds for a double double. Lior Eliyahu added 17 points, David Blu scored 15, Farmar and Hendrix had 14 points each, and Jon Scheyer scored 13 points. Yogev Ohayon dished out an impressive 10 assists.
Maccabi finished the game with an astonishing 183 index points, which was the result of 64% shooting from 2 point range, 46% from 3 point range, 22 of 23 from the foul line, 41 rebounds, 29 assists, and 8 steals. As if those stats weren’t impressive enough for a game so early in the season, Sofo Schortsanitis, Theo Papaloukas and Milan Mačvan did not suit up for the game owing to the new Israeli League rules, which only allow four foreign players to appear on any given game roster.
In the semi-final, which will take place on Tuesday at 9:00 p.m. local time (channel 10), a more challenging opponent awaits, arch-rival Hapoel Jerusalem.
After the game, Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv’s head coach David Blatt said, “The fact that we’ve played more official and significant games [in the preseason and the opening rounds of the Adriatic League] really paid off. Anyway, on paper our team is stronger and all of that combines to have an impact on the game. I do think Netanya is going to improve, they have good offensive skills and they were missing one of their key players. From our standpoint, we played well; we’ll see if we do the same tomorrow. Jerusalem has gotten a couple of significant players. I know Brian Randle, and without him Jerusalem is a different team.”
Yogev Ohayon, who did an excellent job running Maccabi’s offense, added, “We prepared carefully for this tournament; it was important to us to get off to a good start. We really needed to give our all, and I’m happy we did. It was nice to come back to Malha Arena [where Ohayon played last season for Hapoel Jerusalem], it was fun, but now I have a new family. I appreciate the minutes I’ve been getting and I hope I’m putting them to good use. In the end, it really doesn’t matter who plays how many minutes, a player could play 35 minutes on any given night. From our standpoint, the whole team, and the final result, are what’s important.”
Blatt started the game with Devin Smith, Jordan Farmar, Shawn James, Yogev Ohayon and Lior Eliyahu. Maccabi opened strong and took a quick 9 – 0 lead off points that included a stop and pop on the right wing by Ohayon. Yehu Orland finally got Netanya on the scoreboard with a three pointer, but James quickly responded with a dunk (assist Ohayon) and a putback. Halfway through the period a terrific assist from Farmar to Ohayon put Maccabi up 20 – 5. James continued to dominate in the paint, and when he took a break replacement Richard Hendrix took over, pulling down rebounds and scoring a layup. David Blu downed a three from the top of the arc, and even Adrian Banks’ impressive moves couldn’t help Netanya much. The first quarter ended with Maccabi leading 30 – 20.
The start of the second quarter was delayed owing to problems with the clock, but they were eventually straightened out and the game resumed. The break seemed to help Netanya, who whittled their deficit down to a mere six points, 32 – 26, after two and a half minutes, thanks largely to Banks. Smith (five quick points) and Eliyahu (six points and an amazing mid-air steal/deflection) quickly bought Maccabi some breathing room, 39 – 26 midway through the period. Farmar sank two threes, Alon Stein played his first minutes for Maccabi, and James nailed four straight free throws thanks to an unsportsmanlike charge and a technical against Netanya; meanwhile, Maccabi’s defense didn’t give an inch, keeping their opponent to a mere ten points in the quarter. The half ended with the score 57 – 30.
Blu kicked things off in the third quarter with two long bombs from downtown and a steal; after two and a half minutes the score was 67 – 34. After free throws from Smith gave Maccabi a 35 point lead, the defense implemented its full court press and succeeded in keeping Netanya away from the basket. Five minutes into the period, the score was 75 – 36. Guy Pnini scored two straight three pointers to make it 81 – 39, and with 3:40 left in the quarter Netanya coach Danny Franco called a timeout. Even with a forty point lead Maccabi kept up the press, and Hendrix threw down an in-your-face dunk and 1, then followed it up with a block. Jon Scheyer drained a three from the right wing to make it 87 - 41, then followed it up with a baseline jumper that put Maccabi’s lead at fifty at the end of the third period: 98 – 48.
Even with a fifty point lead, Maccabi doesn’t believe in “garbage time”. Every player on the court continued to play full out, especially Scheyer who scored from every possible range and added a steal to his stats. Hendrix and Pnini also added points, and Stein scored a pretty three pointer, his first bucket in the big leagues. In the end, Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv claimed a 117 – 66 victory over Barak Netanya and advances to the semi-finals in the Chance Cup tournament, where they will face arch-rival Hapoel Jerusalem.
Maccabi: Eliyahu 17 points; James 16 points, 13 rebounds, 2 blocks; Blu 15 points, 2 assists, 2 steals; Hendrix 14 points, 8 rebounds, 4 blocks, 2 steals; Farmar 14 points, 5 assists; Scheyer 13 points; Pnini 11 points, 4 assists; Ohayon 7 points, 10 assists; Smith 7 points; Stein 3 points.
Top scorers for Netanya: Banks 29 points; Randle 12 points.