By Amy Samin
Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv trounced arch-rival Hapoel Tel Aviv on their temporary home court in Rishon Lezion, 80-67, grabbing a 2-0 lead in the playoff series. Ricky Hickman was once again the standout for Maccabi, with 25 points. Team captain Lior Eliyahu had an excellent game with 16 points, Shawn James contributed 10 points and 7 rebounds, and Guy Pnini added 9 points. Yogev Ohayon also had a great game, with 9 points, 10 rebounds, and 8 assists.
Starters for Maccabi were Yogev Ohayon, Lior Eliyahu, Ricky Hickman, Shawn James and Devin Smith. The opening minutes of the game were close, until Hickman turned on the heat downtown, and together with Ohayon put Maccabi up 16-9 halfway through the period. Hapoel managed to narrow the gap to two, but points by Eliyahu and a buzzer-beater from outside the arc by David Logan made it 21-16, Maccabi.
Maccabi continued to run as the second quarter got underway, grabbing a double digit lead, 26-16 in the first minute and a half. Logan and Hickman kept pouring down the triples, but with three minutes left in the half Hapoel came back, cutting their deficit to 36-31. Hickman came through with five straight points to make it 43-32 Maccabi as the teams went into the break.
The hosts opened the second half with two threes, but James scored in the paint to cut Hapoel's run short, 45-39. Maccabi struggled to score consecutive baskets, and Hapoel took advantage, first tying the score then taking the lead, 50-49. A clutch three by Pnini gave the lead back to Maccabi, and points from downtown by Hickman closed out the quarter with Maccabi up 60-56.
In the first minute of the final period, Hapoel once again tied the score, 60-60. Smith dropped two key dimes and added a three of his own, and Eliyahu and Ohayon helped lift Maccabi to 74-62 at the halfway mark. Maccabi protected their lead through the final minutes of the game, and walked away with an 80-67 victory over Hapoel Tel Aviv. The third game of the series will take place on Thursday at Nokia Arena.