By Amy Samin
Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv has taken a 1-0 lead in the best of five semifinal series after defeating Hapoel Migdal Jerusalem 91-73. Lior Eliyahu was excellent with 22 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists and 4 steals. Shawn James was also outstanding, scoring 21 points on 82 percent shooting from two point range. Devin Smith finished with a double double of 14 points and 10 rebounds, and Ricky Hickman contributed 12 points and 7 assists.
Starters for Maccabi were Yogev Ohayon, Devin Smith, Shawn James, Ricky Hickman, and team captain Lior Eliyahu. James broke the ice with two straight buckets in the first minute, but points by Ron Steele kept Jerusalem close. Ohayon and Eliyahu gave Maccabi some breathing room, but Jerusalem kept close, and as the halfway mark approached the hosts led by one, 12-11. The game remained close, with a steal and dunk by Courtney Fells giving Jerusalem a 15-14 lead with three and a half minutes left in the period. Two straight buckets by Eliyahu tied the score at 18, but the quarter ended with Jerusalem in the lead, 22-20.
The second quarter got underway with a three from the right corner by Sylven Landesberg. A tip in by Smith and points from the foul line by James gave the lead back to Maccabi, 27-26 with two minutes gone. The lead changed hands as each team scored, until Jerusalem scrambled to a five point lead, 35-30 with just under four minutes left in the half. But Maccabi came back thanks to unanswered points by Hickman, Eliyahu (assist Smith), and James. A fastbreak dunk by Eliyahu ended the period with Maccabi leading 38-35.
Two straight buckets and 1 (Smith and James) opened the game up for Maccabi in the first minute of the third quarter, and the home team continued to run, racking up points by Eliyahu and Smith (who had three straight baskets) and making it 52-39 after three and a half minutes. A great jumper by Nik Caner-Medley completed the run, which was cut short by points from Fells for Jerusalem. Jerusalem managed to trim their deficit to under double digits from the charity stripe, 58-49 with two minutes left in the period. Two straight buckets by Landesberg soon remedied that, though Steele downed a three to cut the lead back to ten. The quarter ended with Maccabi leading 64-55.
James dropped in a nice hook shot to kick off the fourth quarter, then added a dunk off a dime from Hickman to make it 68-57 after two minutes of action. Jerusalem scored twice to make it a seven point game, but points off the glass by Eliyahu and a triple from Ohayon at the shot clock buzzer made it 73-64 with five minutes left in the period. Eliyahu and Hickman scored to set the score at 80-68 with about three minutes left. Smith downed a three from the left wing, and Eliyahu, Hickman and James each scored to give Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv a 91-73 victory over Hapoel Migdal Jerusalem in game one of the Israeli Winner Sal League semifinals. Game two will take place in Jerusalem on Thursday.