By Amy Samin
Maccabi’s starting five in the Israel Cup Final were Raviv Limonad, Andrew Wisniewski, Guy Pnini, Alan Anderson and D’or Fischer.
Starters for Bnei Hasharon were Erez Katz, Ben Rice, Cookie Belcher, Sam Clancy and Ogonna Onyekwe.
The first points of the game were scored by Clancy for Bnei Hasharon, but they were then held scoreless for the next five minutes.
Pnini and Anderson sent home three pointers while Fischer dominated under the basket on defense.
At the halfway mark in the period, Maccabi had a 10 – 2 lead.
Ori Ichaki tried to give Bnei Hasharon’s offense a kick start with three from well outside the arc, but the boys in blue couldn’t get rolling.
David Bluthenthal nailed a bucket from the right wing and later executed a pretty spin and shoot with less than a minute in the quarter.
Wiz’s two from the corner closed out the first quarter with Maccabi up by ten, 20 – 10.
Dan Shamir’s team wasn’t ready to give up, and went on a 10 – 0 scoring run in the first 2 minutes of the second quarter, tying the score at 20.
A three pointer from Bluthenthal gave Maccabi back the lead, then Chuck Eidson added two more from near the top of the key as soon as he entered the game.
A layup by Bluthenthal put Maccabi up by eight, 30 – 22 but Bnei Hasharon stayed in the game with points by Belcher, Shawn James and Ichaki.
A no-look dish from Doron Perkins to Stephane Lasme for a bucket and one put the score at 35 – 31 with two minutes remaining in the half.
Pnini closed out the half at the buzzer with one of his trademark three pointers, and the team went into halftime with Maccabi leading 38 – 33.
Maccabi got off to a slow start in the second half, scoring only two points off free throws by Lasme until Pnini stepped up and drilled home a three after two minutes, 43 – 37.
The game stayed close, with Maccabi tough on defense and a bit off the mark on offense, until team captain Derrick Sharp came into the game and electrified his team.
Wiz drove up the middle for a couple of finger roll baskets and Sharp showed he still has what it takes from three point range.
With four minutes left in the period, Maccabi led 51 – 47.
A flurry of fouls called with less than three minutes on the clock gave Maccabi four more points, then Sharp sent home another three from the opposite side; 60 – 51, Maccabi.
Bluthenthal dazzled with another of his long range missiles from well behind the top of the arc.
The quarter ended with Maccabi up by seven, 63 – 56.
The fourth quarter saw Bnei Hasharon scrapping to stay in the game.
Every time Maccabi got some breathing room, James and company came right back.
Clancy got his team within three, 65 – 62 after two minutes.
Anderson had two power dunks, while Maccabi’s defense locked Bnei Hasharon out at the other end.
In the middle of the period, both teams slowed down on offense.
With less than three minutes remaining, Ron Steele got his team within one, 69 – 68.
Bluthenthal responded with a fade-away jumper for two, and was answered in turn by James.
With just over a minute left, Maccabi clung to a one point lead, 71 – 70.
A drive to the basket by Anderson gave Maccabi some breathing room with 1:09 on the clock.
Wiz sent a slick assist to Lasme for a two-handed dunk, putting Maccabi up 75 – 70 with thirty seconds left.
Two free throws from Sharp made it official:
Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv 77, Bnei Hasharon 70.
The Israel Cup has come home.
Maccabi: Bluthenthal 14 points; Anderson 12 points; Wisniewski 11 points; Pnini 10 points; Lasme 9 points; Fischer and Sharp 8 points each; Eidson 5 points.
Limonad, Perkins and Green played but did not score.
Bnei Hasharon: James 20 points; Ichaki 17 points; Clancy 10 points; Belcher and Steele 7 points each; Katz 5 points; Rosefelt and Rice 2 points each.