By Amy Samin
Once again Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv has claimed first place in the Israeli Winner Sal League after defeating Hapoel Jerusalem 83-79 at Malha Arena. Ricky Hickman was high scorer for Maccabi with 15 points. Guy Pnini added 13 points, Tyrese Rice contributed 12 points and 7 assists, and David Blu scored 11 points.
Starters for Maccabi were Ricky Hickman, David Blu, Tyrese Rice, Andrija ?i?i?, and Guy Pnini. The game got underway with a three pointer by Pnini at the top of the arc, but the next few minutes didn't feature much action. Halfway through the period Jerusalem had an 8-5 lead. Despite a hook shot by Blu and points from Alex Tyus, the hosts continued to hold the lead until Devin Smith scored from downtown to tie the score at 14 with two minutes left. Jerusalem stayed close although Maccabi took the lead, and after a dunk by Hickman and a trey by Joe Ingles in the corner, the period ended with the score 19-18, Maccabi.
The second quarter also opened with points by Pnini, but Jerusalem had tied the score at 24 after three minutes of action. Sylven Landesberg came into the game and scored from the top of the arc, in the paint (and 1) and from the left wing, putting Maccabi up 37-31 with three minutes left in the half. Rice added a triple of his own, while Blu and Ingles also scored to extend Maccabi's lead. Jerusalem scored five quick points with seconds left on the clock, but a classic catch and shoot from downtown by Blu ended the half with Maccabi up 50-38.
Maccabi stayed in control as the third quarter got underway, with points by ?i?i?, Rice (right corner) and Blu making it 57-40 after four minutes. Jerusalem couldn't do much against Maccabi's defense, while Hickman continued to rack up points for Maccabi, including two on a fast break after a steal by Pnini. The period ended with the score 66-49.
Jerusalem came out strong in the fourth quarter, going on a 13-2 run that made it 68-62 after three minutes. A three pointer by Pnini (assist Blu) and points by Rice put Maccabi's lead back in double figures close to the halfway mark, but Jerusalem continued to explode on offense, making it 76-72 with two and a half minutes left. Smith added a three to give Maccabi some breathing room, but Jerusalem didn't give up, pulling within two with less than a minute in the game. Pnini sank two free throws with :25 on the clock, but Jerusalem responded with a bucket on their next possession. Two points from the foul line by Hickman finished the game, and Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv walked away with an 83-79 win over Hapoel Jerusalem.