By Amy Samin
It was a fabulous night for several of Maccabi's players, especially Moran Roth, who scored 17 points on perfect shooting. Also putting in stellar performances were Devin Smith (20 points), Lior Eliyahu with 19 points, and Darko Planinic with 17 points. Shawn James, who got the evening off, was awarded a prize for having scored 1,000 points the Israeli League so far.
Starters for Maccabi were team captain Lior Eliyahu, Yogev Ohayon, Ricky Hickman, Devin Smith and Malcolm Thomas. Maccabi got off to a slow start in the early minutes of the first quarter, not taking the lead until Smith sank a buzzer-beater from downtown to make it 5-4 after two and a half minutes. From then on Maccabi controlled the pace, with points from Ohayon, Eliyahu and Thomas giving Maccabi a 12-8 lead halfway through the period. Eliyahu scored twice more, including a rare three pointer, but the next few minutes belonged to newcomer Darko Planinic, who scored six straight from the field and the foul line to make it 23-16 with a minute and a half left. Smith and Ohayon each added points, but it was Planinic who finished the quarter with a buzzer-beating hook shot that gave Maccabi a 29-19 lead.
David Logan kicked off the second quarter with a layup, which was soon followed by points from Ohayon and Sylven Landesberg. Smith added a three pointer, and David Logan scored off a steal/dish from Ohayon to make it 40-25 after three and half minutes. The visitors refused to give up though, and went on an 8-2 scoring run that put them back within seven, 42-35 halfway through the period. Two straight layups by Logan and one from Moran Roth gave Maccabi some breathing room, 48-37 with just over three minutes remaining in the half. Roth went on to drop a shiny dime on Eliyahu in the paint before draining two straight buckets from outside the arc, and a drive through dunk by Smith ended the quarter with Maccabi up 58-43.
The first four minutes of the second half saw Eliyahu taking turns scoring with Smith (three from the right wing) and Planinic (scoring off a nice assist from Ohayon) to put Maccabi's lead at twenty-one, 60-49. Herzliya matched Maccabi basket for basket, but the deficit they racked up in the first half kept them from getting close. A slam by Thomas off the oop from Eliyahu made it 76-54 with just over four minutes left in the period. Thomas left the court with an apparent finger injury, but Maccabi continued to roll with a bucket and one by Roth. Both teams continued to play full out, but Roth's long three at the end of the period extended Maccabi's lead to 84-66.
Smith opened the final quarter with another three, and Eliyahu grabbed a steal and sent a long bomb to Hickman, who went in for the dunk, 89-66 with just under a minute gone. Hickman and Landesberg showed some smooth moves in the paint, and Thomas (back in the game with a taped finger) sank two from the charity stripe before sending an assist to Landesberg in the paint, 97-69. A bucket and 1 by Roth put Maccabi at the century mark with over five minutes left in the game, 100-69. Maccabi continued to play like it was a two point game, with Logan, Thomas and Planinic all contributing as Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv came away with a decisive 113-85 win over Bnei Herzliya.
Maccabi: Smith 20 points, 6 rebounds; Eliyahu 19 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists; Roth 17 points; Planinic 17 points; Logan 12 points; Thomas 8 points, 8 rebounds; Hickman 7 points, 7 assists; Ohayon 7 points, 7 assists; Landesberg 6 points.