By Amy Samin
Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv wrapped up their sweep of their best of five series against B.C. Habikaa 3 – 0 with an 86 – 59 win at Nokia Arena. Richard Hendrix led all scorers with 16 points (9 rebounds). Devin Smith and Guy Pnini (4 of 6 from three) each contributed 14 points and Lior Eliyahu added 13 points and 8 rebounds.
Hendrix, Eliyahu, Pnini, Smith and Yogev Ohayon started the game for Maccabi. Visitors Habikaa grabbed an early lead in a slow-moving first period, but Maccabi tied the score at 7 with four minutes gone. A putback by Hendrix gave Maccabi their first lead of the game, which Eliyahu and Pnini built on, making it 13 – 7 with just over four minutes left in the period. Hendrix scored on a nicely-executed give and go, and Eliyahu and Smith added points that made it 20 – 11 with a minute and a half left. Pnini’s spin and in at the buzzer off a save and assist from Smith set the score at 23 – 15 at the end of one quarter.
Dion Dowell and Nir Cohen went to work for Habikaa in the opening minutes of the second quarter, closing the gap and then taking a 25 – 23 lead after two and a half minutes. But Maccabi rallied with a three pointer by Pnini on the left wing following a steal by Smith, and points by Eliyahu and Theo Papaloukas (assist Pnini). Hendrix added a dunk (assist Eliyahu, steal Pnini) to make it 32 – 26 close to the halfway mark in the period.A block by Shawn James was followed by a layup by Smith. James went on to add a dunk and a dish to Pnini on the right wing for another trey. The half ended with Maccabi leading 44 – 32.
Habikaa redoubled their efforts at the start of the third quarter, outscoring Maccabi 12 – 7 in the first half of the period. Hendrix downed a putback and scored twice off two shiny dimes from Ohayon, while Pnini scored from downtown and Papaloukas followed suit after Hendrix tapped a pass back to the Greek guard. The third period ended with Maccabi up 65 – 51.
Maccabi was on fire in the fourth period, blazing their way to 82 – 54 with about three and a half minutes to go in the game off points by Hendrix (including a smooth mid-range jumper), Papaloukas, Smith with a dunk on a fastbreak (assist Pnini), David Blu with a long two on the right side, and points by Smith and Eliyahu. Habikaa finally ended the 17 – 3 run with a free throw, but teenagers Idan Zalmanson and Arad Harari came into the game for Maccabi, adding two points each while showing focus and determination on defense, and Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv ended up defeating B.C. Habikaa 86 – 59, sweeping their quarterfinal series and advancing to the semi-final, which will take place on May 22nd at Nokia Arena against a yet-to-be-determined opponent.
Maccabi: Hendrix 16 points, 9 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 blocks; Smith 14 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals; Pnini 14 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 steals; Eliyahu 13 points, 8 rebounds, 2 assists; Papaloukas 8 points, 4 assists, 3 steals, 2 rebounds; James 6 points, 6 rebounds, 2 blocks, 1 assist; Ohayon 6 points, 6 assists, 3 rebounds; Blu 5 points, 2 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal; Zalmanson 2 points, 3 rebounds; Harari 2 points.
Top scorers for Habikaa: Dowell 13 points; Cohen 10 point.