By Amy Samin
Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv won their first title of the 2011 – 2012 season by defeating Hapoel Holon 78 - 74 in the Chance Cup Final. Lior Eliyahu, who was named MVP of the tournament, Richard Hendrix, and Sofo Schortsanitis did a fantastic job. On Sunday, Maccabi will open their regular Israeli League season with an away game against Hapoel Gilboa/Galil.
Head coach David Blatt led off with his usual fivesome of Sofo Schortsanitis, Yogev Ohayon, Jordan Farmar, Lior Eliyahu, and Devin Smith. Holon got off to a great start and quickly took a 7 – 2 lead after a three pointer by Dan Grunfeld after two minutes of play. Four straight points by Eliyahu and a three pointer by Guy Pnini from the right corner (assist Eliyahu) tied the score at 9 a couple of minutes later. Ohayon delivered a dazzling spin and in bucket in the paint, and Sofo and Eliyahu scored to give Maccabi a 16 – 11 lead with three and a half minutes left in the period. Moran Roth brought Holon within two, but a three pointer by Jon Scheyer and points by Farmar and David Blu closed out the quarter with Maccabi leading 25 – 16.
Two baskets by Richard Hendrix and a huge three by Blu put Maccabi up 32 - 22 in the early minutes of the second quarter. Holon continued to fight, and points by Patrick Sullivan put them within five, 34 – 29 halfway through the period. A rather lackluster Maccabi hung on to a similar lead through the rest of the quarter, and the teams went into halftime with Maccabi up by six, 41 – 35.
Maccabi came out strong in the third quarter, with a bucket by Hendrix, five straight points from Smith and a reverse layup by Farmar which set the score at 50 – 41. Eliyahu and Ohayon bumped up the score and forced Holon’s coach Dan Shamir to call a timeout. Sofo dominated in the paint and halfway through the period the score was 61 – 44. The Greek center was called for his fourth foul and was replaced by Hendrix, who was also highly effective under the basket on both ends of the court. Holon continued to chip away at their deficit, but Pnini delivered another shot from downtown to end the period with Maccabi still in the lead, 65 – 52.
The fourth quarter also opened well for Maccabi with points from Eliyahu and Ohayon and strong defense by Maccabi. But Ron Lewis and Holon continued to narrow the gap, and with the score 73 – 63 Blatt called for a timeout. Sofo played tough on defense and was called for his fifth foul. Hendrix, who once again replaced the Greek, did an excellent job with a block and rebounds, and scored to keep Maccabi’s lead in double digits, 76 – 66 with two minutes remaining. Holon fought hard and managed to come within four, but when time ran out Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv came away with a 78 – 74 victory over Hapoel Holon and the title of holder of the Chance Cup for 2011.
Eliyahu 14 points, 5 assists, 4 rebounds; Hendrix 12 points, 9 rebounds, 1 block; Schortsanitis 10 points, 4 rebounds; Farmar 9 points, 4 assists, 3 rebounds; Smith 9 points, 3 rebounds; Pnini 7 points, 9 assists, 3 rebounds; Ohayon 7 points, 3 rebounds; Blu 5 points, 4 rebounds; Scheyer 3 points; Burstein 2 points.
Top scorers for Holon were Grunfeld 20 points; Lewis and Dunston 15 points each.