By Amy Samin
Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv won game 1 of the semi-final best of five series against Hapoel Eilat by a score of 90-72. Tyrese Rice was game MVP with 17 points and 5 assists. Ricky Hickman scored 16 points and had 8 rebounds, Sofo Schortsanitis added 15 points, Alex Tyus had 12 points and Devin Smith contributed 11 points.
Starters for Maccabi were Devin Smith, Ricky Hickman, Guy Pnini, Yogev Ohayon and Sofo Schortsanitis. The start of the game was close, with points from Sofo and Smith giving Maccabi an 8-7 lead after five minutes. Two assists by David Blu (to Sofo and Hickman) made it 14-10 a minute later, but Eilat quickly pulled within one. Alex Tyus made two buckets (assists by Pnini) and a three pointer by Pnini at the buzzer ended the period with Maccabi leading 23-18.
Smith and Hickman extended Maccabi's lead with points from downtown as the second quarter got underway, but Eilat went on a scoring run that ended with them up by one, 30-29 after three minutes. Hickman and Sofo combined to put Maccabi back on top, but an 8-0 run by the visitors once again gave them the lead, 40-34 with two and a half minutes left in the half. Maccabi responded with points by Tyus and Joe Ingles, then once again it was Pnini with the final bucket of the period. The teams went into the halftime break with Maccabi up 41-40.
The second half got underway with five straight points by Hickman, 46-40 after two and a half minutes. Eilat had managed to score only two free throws after four minutes, when Tyus, Smith (in a great play from Blu to Hickman to Smith) and Smith again, this time from the left corner, gave Maccabi a double digit lead, 52-42 with four and a half minutes on the clock. Once again the visitors could only add two from the charity stripe, while Tyus scored following a great save by Rice, who then scored from downtown, making it 57-44 with three minutes left in the period. Rice continued to demonstrate his ability, and the period ended with Maccabi leading 65-53.
Pnini scored from the left wing to start the fourth quarter, and Blu added two straight threes, one from each corner, to make it 74-53 after just over two minutes. Rice and Sofo (with six straight points) made it 83-65 halfway through the period. Eilat couldn't do much to improve the situation, and in the end Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv defeated Hapoel Eilat 90-72.