By Amy Samin
Devin Smith (19 points, 7 rebounds), Keith Langford (16 points, 7 rebounds), and Richard Hendrix (13 points, 8 rebounds) led Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv to an 82 – 77 come-from-behind victory over Hapoel Unet Holon in the 19th game of the Lotto League season. David Blu contributed three crucial three pointers and finished the game with 13 points. Lior Eliyahu, Shawn James, Theo Papaloukas and Demond Mallet did not dress for the game.
David Blu, Devin Smith, Yogev Ohayon, Keith Langford, and Richard Hendrix started the game for Maccabi. Holon opened strong and quickly jumped to a 4 – 0 lead off points by Tasmin Mitchell and Ron Lewis. Smith responded from the top of the arc and Hendrix added points in the paint to make it a one point game, 6 – 5. Holon took control of the tempo of the game and scrambled to a 19 – 7 lead halfway through the period. Sofo Schortsanitis, Guy Pnini, and Langford all scored from the foul line, but the period ended with the home team leading 29 – 15.
The second quarter began with a steal and score by Pnini. Ohayon wove his way through defenders for a layup and Hendrix converted a steal into an assist to Sofo, who also sank the and 1. The Greek center also stole the ball and grabbed a couple of offensive boards before being fouled and bringing Maccabi within five with two more free throws: 29 – 24 after two and a half minutes. Holon added a few points but Maccabi’s defense didn’t make things easy for the hosts, while Blu’s back-to-back three pointers (both assists by Ohayon) were joined by a trey from Smith (assist Blu) to put Maccabi within one, 39 – 38 with a minute left in the half. Time ran out on the period with Maccabi trailing by three, 43 – 40.
Maccabi started strong in the third quarter, thanks largely to points by Langford, who scored 7 points in the first three minutes put Maccabi within two, 49 – 47. Pnini’s catch-and-shoot from downtown (assist Langford) gave Maccabi their first lead of the game, 52 – 51 near the halfway mark. Smith added to the lead but Holon was able to tie the score. Two straight buckets by Smith didn’t stop the home team from bouncing back and tying the score once again. A putback and 1 by Hendrix gave the lead back to Maccabi, and a Herculean effort by Sofo over a loose ball ended in a dish to Langford for two points, giving Maccabi a 63 – 61 lead at the end of the third period.
Lewis dragged Holon back into the game with five straight points early in the fourth quarter, 69 – 66 to the hosts with six and a half minutes left in the game. Over the next five minutes the lead changed hands six more times, with Smith rattling in a three, and Hendrix adding three off a bucket and free throw. Langford took a page from Sofo’s book, scrambling for a loose ball and delivering a perfect dime to Hendrix for the dunk while lying on the floor. A free throw by Lewis put the lead back in Holon’s hands with two minutes on the clock, but Langford scored as time ran out on the shot clock to put Maccabi up for good, and points from the charity stripe made it official: Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv defeated Hapoel Unet Holon 82 – 77.
Maccabi: Smith 19 points, 7 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 block; Langford 16 points, 7 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals; Hendrix 13 points, 8 rebounds, 4 steals, 2 blocks, 1 assist; Blu 13 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal; Schortsanitis 8 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals; Pnini 7 points, 2 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal; Ohayon 6 points, 4 assists, 3 rebounds, 1 steal.
Top scorers for Holon: Mitchell 23 points; Lewis 19 points.