Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv came away with a resounding 95 – 60 win over last season’s second-ranked team in the Israeli League, Hapoel Gilboa/Galil, in the season opener at Gan Ner Arena. It was a fine gift for the club’s chairman of the board, Shimon Mizrahi, who celebrated his 72nd birthday. David Blu put on a dazzling display of his remarkable abilities (21 points, 5 of 6 from three point range) and Devin Smith continued to impress with style (17 points on 7 of 10 shooting). Lior Eliyahu and Yogev Ohayon also had excellent games against the team of their youth. On Thursday (8:45 pm, channel 10) Maccabi will take on EA7 Emporio Armani Milano in their Euroleague season opener.
Maccabi’s starting five were Jordan Farmar, Yogev Ohayon, Devin Smith, Lior Eliyahu, and Shawn James. Maccabi looked strong as the game got underway, with Ohayon and Eliyahu putting Maccabi up 9 – 0 after a minute and a half. Maccabi’s offense continued to click, with split-second passing from Ohayon to Eliyahu to James resulting in points under the basket. Six straight by Smith gave Maccabi a 17 – 3 lead with four minutes left in the period. Richard Hendrix delivered a dunk and David Blu a classic catch and shoot from the top of the arc to make it 22 – 4 with three minutes left. Gilboa couldn’t do much more than add a point here and there from the charity stripe, while Guy Pnini nailed a shot from downtown, and Blu and Hendrix each scored again to close out the quarter with Maccabi leading 29 – 9.
Courtney Fells scored several times for Gilboa at the start of the second quarter, keeping them in the game and closing the gap to 33 – 17. But James and Pnini made sure Maccabi’s lead didn’t shrink further, making it 37 – 17 after three minutes of play. Pnini scored again from outside the arc and Eliyahu delivered one of his classic buckets (called “guavas” by his teammates), made it 42 – 17 with four minutes left in the period. Gilboa seemed to lose their motivation, while Maccabi continued to dominate on both ends of the court, and the teams went into the halftime break with Maccabi leading 46 – 21.
The writing was already on the wall with the start of the third quarter, which got underway with a huge three from Smith, who also added a dunk off a fastbreak pass from Blu to make it 55 – 29, three minutes into the period. Blu and Smith continued to give lessons on how to wow the fans, while Fells did his best to keep his team in the game. A layup by James gave Maccabi a 66 – 33 lead with three minutes left. More points by Blu and Eliyahu wrapped up the period with Maccabi enjoying a more than comfortable 75 – 37 lead.
The opening minutes of the fourth quarter mirrored the second, but this time it was Blu who nailed a catch and shoot from the left corner to start things off. It wasn’t long before he drained another from the same spot, after a miss and a deflection by Hendrix put the ball back in his hands for take two, 81 - 39. Jan Martin and Gilboa tried to narrow the gap, but Maccabi’s lead was just too overwhelming. Meanwhile, newcomer to Maccabi Jon Scheyer scored two layups and a three pointer in the period, and team captain Tal Burstein scored and made an assist. When time ran out, Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv came away with a 95 – 60 win over Hapoel Altshuler Shacham Gilboa/Galil in the Israeli League season opener. Next up, Armani Milano and the Euroleague.