By Amy Samin
Maccabi FOX Tel Aviv defeated French club Cholet 71-66 in their first preseason game in France. Jordan Farmar led all scorers with 18 points (4 of 7 from 3), Brian Randle added 11 points, and young Dragan Bender had an impressive double double: 10 points and 10 rebounds.
Head coach Guy Goodes said after the game: “We weren’t focused at all at the start of the game, and scored only 10 points in the first quarter, with a lot of missed layups and open threes. We weren’t too sharp in the second quarter, either, especially on offense. We finished the first half with only 25 points. We were much sharper in the second half, both on offense and defense, and we got to 46 points in the second half. There’s still a lot of work to do, adjustments on defense and proper execution on offense. In the end, we turned a not great day into a victory, and that’s also important.”
Goodes’ starting five was Jordan Farmar, Taylor Rochestie, Devin Smith, Brian Randle, and Vitor Faverani. The French took a 5-0 lead early on, but Sylven Landesberg and Guy Pnini, who subbed in for Farmar and Rochestie, delivered points that made it 7-3 with 3 minutes left in the first period. Cholet ran to 13-5, but a bucket and one from Sylven and points by Faverani closed to 13-10.
A triple by Pnini tied the game as the second quarter got underway, but Cholet woke up and soon made it 20-13, leading Goodes to call for a time out. Farmar added a three pointer, but the French protected their lead, which stood at 24-16 halfway through the period. Maccabi couldn’t get the shots to drop, and their deficit grew to double figures, but another three by Farmar and Trevor Mbakwe from the foul line cut that to 5. Cholet scored at the buzzer to make it 32-25 going into the break.
Farmar, Rochestie, Smith, Randle, and Mbakwe opened the second half. The French lead grew to 8, but Farmar continued to be the main executor for Maccabi and narrowed the gap to 39-36. Dragan Bender added a huge block, and Pnini’s second triple gave Maccabi their first lead of the game. Cholet reclaimed the lead, but Bender tied things up 46-46 as the period came to an end.
Bender continued to demonstrate his ability at the start of the fourth quarter, putting Maccabi up 50-46 in the first minute. The momentum stayed on Maccabi’s side until Cholet called for a time out when they were down 54-46. The French continued to fight, closing to 58-57 halfway through the period. Bender and Smith combined to keep the lead with Maccabi, 64-62. Rochestie and Bender from the charity stripe kept Maccabi on top, and the game ended in a 71-66 victory for Maccabi FOX Tel Aviv.
Maccabi’s scorers: Farmar: 18 points (4 of 7 from 3); Randle 11 points; Bender 10 points, 10 rebounds; Landesberg 8 points; Pnini 7 points; Smith 6 points; Rochestie 5 points; Mbakwe 4 points; Faverani 2 points.