By Amy Samin
Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv suffered their second straight loss in the Israeli League, falling 76-70 to Barak Greentops Netanya. Hickman and Ohayon led Maccabi's scorers with 14 and 13 points, respectively. Big man Shawn James had a well-deserved night off. On Thursday, Maccabi will face Khimki Moscow in a battle for a place in the Euroleague quarterfinals.
Maccabi's starters were Yogev Ohayon, Ricky Hickman, Sylven Landesberg, Nik Caner-Medley and team captain Lior Eliyahu. Netanya opened the game with an impressive 9-0 run, but thanks to Darko Planinic and two steals by Ohayon, Maccabi pulled within four midway through the period, 13-9. David Logan and Planinic scored to tie the game at 15, but Netanya pulled ahead to end the period with a 21-17 lead.
Netanya continued to expand their lead at the start of the second quarter, going to 27-19 after two minutes. Maccabi couldn't get the drops in the paint, aside from one layup by Guy Pnini, while Netanya cruised to a double digit lead halfway through the period, 34-23. On top of everything else, Maccabi's big men started getting into foul trouble, and despite a clutch bucket from the corner by Landesberg, the teams went into the halftime break with Netanya leading 41-29.
Planinic scored for Maccabi early in the third quarter, but the next few minutes were all Netanya. A technical foul on Coach Blatt didn't help matters, and after two and a half minutes Netanya's lead had grown to 43-31. Maccabi continued to commit fouls, while Moran Roth and Ohayon were the main reason Netanya's offense didn't break the game open. After a string of missed baskets and disorganized play by both teams, the period ended with Netanya still firmly in the lead, 54-41.
Maccabi kicked off the fourth quarter with a 6-0 run that cut the deficit to single digits, 56-47. Netanya answered with a three pointer, but Hickman had a response of his own, five straight points that made it 61-55 with six minutes left in the game. Netanya kept their cool and re-grew their lead to double figures, 69-59 with three minutes remaining. Maccabi pulled out the stops for a last ditch blitz and narrowed the gap to only three points, but Netanya fought to keep the advantage and in the end Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv was defeated by Barak Greentops Netanya 76-70.