By Amy Samin
In game 3 of the Israeli Winner Sal semifinal series, Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv defeated Hapoel Eilat 97-75 and now leads the series 2 games to 1. Sofo Schortsanitis was outstanding with 18 points, Tyrese Rice contributed 14 points, Devin Smith scored 13 points and took 10 rebounds, Sylven Landesberg added 12 points, and David Blu and Ricky Hickman each scored 10 points.
Maccabi's starters were Devin Smith, Sylven Landesberg, Ricky Hickman, Guy Pnini and Sofo Schortsanitis. Three pointers from Smith and Hickman (both assists by Sofo) and points in the paint by Sofo and Landesberg got Maccabi off to a good start in the early minutes of the quarter, 10-2. A scoring run by the visitors gave Eilat a 13-12 lead in the middle of the period. The lead changed hands throughout the second half of the period, which ended with the visitors clinging to a 20-19 lead.
Two quick buckets from Hickman (including a trey from the right corner off a dish from Tyrese Rice) put Maccabi back on top at the start of the second quarter. Eilat responded, but Rice scored twice to open things up. Alex Tyus scored three times off dimes from Pnini, who also sent an assist to Smith before downing a three pointer himself and putting Maccabi's lead in double figures, 41-31 with two and a half minutes left in the half. Smith added points from the top of the arc, and the teams went into the break with Maccabi leading 44-35.
Landesberg and Sofo combined to put Maccabi's lead at 50-37 two minutes into the third quarter. Eilat responded with four points, but a floater by Landesberg and points from downtown by Blu extended Maccabi's lead to fifteen, 55-40 after four minutes. A string of buckets and points from the charity stripe helped Eilat close the gap to three, 55-52 with three minutes left in the quarter. Sofo, Smith and Pnini reopened Maccabi's lead to ten, 64-54 but Eilat again closed within three. A layup by Rice finished the quarter with Maccabi leading 66-61.
Eleven points and an assist by Sofo took Maccabi to 77-63 after two and a half minutes of action in the fourth quarter. From there Eilat couldn't do much to improve their situation, while Rice, Blu, Smith, Landesberg, Ben Altit and Arad Harari all showcased their skills. Landesberg wrapped things up with one last bucket, and Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv defeated Hapoel Eilat 97-75, taking a 2-1 lead in the best of five semifinal series of the Winner Sal League. Game 4 will take place in Eilat on Monday.