By Amy Samin
Maccabi’s starting five had a new look, with David Bluthenthal, Guy Pnini, Andrew Wisniewski, Chuck Eidson and D’or Fischer taking the court at tip-off.
Bnei Hasharon led with Ben Rice, Ron Steele, P.J. Tucker, Shawn James and Ori Ichaki.
Maccabi was charged up and ready to play, and didn’t let a foul called against Pnini (on Ichaki) in the first 4 seconds of the game hold them back.
Fischer scored five of Maccabi’s first seven points in the game off two assists by Pnini, and with two minutes gone Maccabi led 7 – 2.
But the center garnered two quick fouls and was replaced by Stephane Lasme, who quickly scored five points of his own, making it 15 – 12 with four and a half minutes on the clock.
Tempers were already high from an unsportsmanlike call against Bluthenthal, and when Wisniewski tripped and fell over Rice, Ichaki stepped over and shoved Wiz, nearly starting a brawl.
Cooler heads prevailed, and Alan Anderson and Wisniewski each scored for three from the sweet spot on the right wing, and Maccabi’s lead grew to 21 – 12 at the three minute mark.
Pnini decided he wanted a piece of that, and he also drilled home a three pointer from the same place.
Yaniv Green and team captain Derrick Sharp came into the game for the final seconds of the period, and Green scored from the foul line and dropped in a putback to close out the quarter, with Maccabi in the lead, 27 – 20.
Defense was the name of the game for Maccabi in the opening minutes of the second quarter, and the offense wasn’t too shabby either.
Anderson opened the period with a pretty spin and shoot, while Doron Perkins contributed four and Eidson and Pnini each scored two; all this before the home team managed to score two from the charity stripe, putting the score at 37 – 22, Maccabi.
Green scored on a fade-away jumper with five and a half minutes on the clock, but it wasn’t until more than a minute later that Bnei Hasharon scored their first field shot of the period.
Lasme drained two jumpers, one from each side, and Wisniewski nailed a three from the top of the arc to send the teams into halftime with the score 56 – 30.
All of Maccabi’s points in the third quarter came from inside the arc, slicing through Bnei Hasharon’s defense.
Lasme (dunk), Bluthenthal (layup) and Eidson (mid-range jumper) scored in quick succession to make it 62 - 36, but the run was stopped by three and one from Tucker for the hosts.
Green slammed in a dunk off an assist from Eidson, then Pnini dished to Eidson on a fastbreak.
Eidson’s and one put Maccabi’s lead back to 26 points, while free throws by Tucker and Rice didn’t offer much help for Bnei Hasharon.
Tucker sank an impressive Hail Mary shot from half-court at the buzzer and the period ended with the score 72 – 47.
Maccabi stayed strong on defense in the fourth quarter, despite their more than comfortable lead, allowing Bnei Hasharon only 11 points in the final period.
Bnei Hasharon had to fight for every point, while Green gave another demonstration of how to sink a jump shot.
As was only fitting, it was Sharp who delivered the coup de grace with seconds left on the clock.
Excellent teamwork (23 assists) and ferocious defense won the day for Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv, who takes home a 91 – 58 victory over Eshet Tours Bnei Hasharon.
The third game in the series (currently at 1 – 1) will take place on Monday at Nokia Arena in Tel Aviv.
Maccabi: Anderson 19 points; Eidson 14 points, 9 rebounds; Lasme 11 points; Green 10 points; Fischer 9 points; Wisniewski 8 points; Pnini 7 points, 6 assists; Perkins 6 points, 7 rebounds; Bluthenthal 5 points, 10 rebounds; Sharp 2 points.
Bnei Hasharon: Tucker 21 points; Ichaki 15 points; Steele and Clancy 6 points each; Rice 4 points; Rosefelt and James 2 points each.
After the game, coach Pini Gershon had this to say, “It’s not the point difference that matters, we need to maintain the intensity.
That’s how we should have played in the first game, and it’s how we need to keep playing.
We know how to do it; we did it well this time.
We don’t need to win by a 35-point difference, but we need to know how to win this series.”
In spite of the one-sided game, Gershon isn’t ready to claim victory: “When it’s over we’ll talk about how the series ended; it’s silly to talk about it now.
It’s been proven that all the speculation about the results of this series is useless, even for us.
We’ll come out and play this way in the next game, and we’ll do our best to win every game.”