By Amy Samin
Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv improved their record to 2-0 in the Israeli Winner Sal League semifinals with a 74-68 win over Hapoel Migdal Jerusalem in the capital city. Once again Lior Eliyahu was outstanding, scoring 17 points and pulling down 6 rebounds. Shawn James also had an exceptional game, adding another double double to his stats with 13 points and 10 rebounds. Yogev Ohayon also scored 13, while Devin Smith added 9 points and 8 rebounds and Ricky Hickman had 9 points and 6 assists. Maccabi can wrap up the series with a win at home in Nokia Arena on Monday.
Starters for Maccabi were Shawn James, Devin Smith, Ricky Hickman, team captain Lior Eliyahu and Yogev Ohayon. The game got off to a slow start, but with Maccabi taking an early lead off points from Oahyon, Eliyahu and Hickman making it 10-4 after five minutes. Jerusalem had trouble staying in the game, while James, Eliyahu, Smith and Hickman added points, 18-9 with less than three minutes left in the period. Two straight treys from the right corner by Guy Pnini and Ohayon made it 24-13 about a minute later. The period ended with Maccabi leading 26-17.
Jerusalem looked a lot stronger at the start of the second quarter, with Ron Steele and Samardo Samuels scoring to help put the hosts within one, 28-27 near the halfway mark. A stop and pop by Ohayon and points by Hickman gave Maccabi some breathing room, and a bucket from downtown and a third chance putback by Pnini ended the quarter with the visitors ahead 39-31.
Maccabi claimed a ten point lead in the first seconds of the third quarter off points by James. A three by Josh Duncan put the hosts within five, but Moran Roth responded in kind for Maccabi. Seven straight points for James (including a gorgeous hook shot and points from the foul line) put Maccabi's lead back into double digits. Eliyahu scored to end the period, 56-42.
The home team scored six quick points at the start of the fourth quarter to pull within eight, but a basket by James and a dunk by Eliyahu reopened Maccabi's lead to 60-48. The next several minutes saw Jerusalem start to dig their way out of the hole only to be shoved back in by three pointers from Ohayon and Smith as well as points in the paint from Eliyahu and Smith, 70-58. In the end, Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv claimed their second victory in the semifinal series, 74-68 over Hapoel Migdal Jerusalem. Game three will be on Monday at Nokia Arena.