.By Amy Samin
Maccabi FOX Tel Aviv lost on the road to Hapoel Jerusalem, 73-66 in week 24 of the Israeli Winner Sal League. Gal Mekel led Maccabi's scorers with 15 points and 6 assists. Dragan Bender added 11 points, and Richard Hendrix contributed 8 points and 7 rebounds in his first game back with Maccabi.
Starters for Maccabi were Guy Pnini, Gal Mekel, Sylven Landesberg, Brian Randle, and Ike Ofoegbu. Jerusalem opened the game with a 7-0 run, but Mekel with five points, along with points by Landesberg and Randle, tied the score at 11 halfway through the period. Richard Hendrix got his first minutes back on the court for Maccabi, and the momentum stayed with the yellows, as a string of threes by Dragan Bender and Yogev Ohayon and good minutes by Taylor Rochestie put the visitors up 26-19 at the end of the first quarter.
Despite points by Bender early in the second quarter, Jerusalem went hard in the paint and took a 29-28 lead after two and a half minutes. A key bucket by Rochestie put the lead back in Maccabi's hands, but Jerusalem tied the score from the charity stripe. Guy Pnini responded from downtown, but Jerusalem was unfazed. The lead changed hands several times, with Itay Segev, Ofoegbu and Hendrix keeping Maccabi close; 41-41 at the end of the half.
Hendrix and Landesberg combined to put Maccabi up 44-43 one minute into the third quarter, but for several minutes after that neither team found the way to light up the scoreboard, until Eliyahu and Halperin scored for Jerusalem to give them a 49-44 lead halfway through the period. Mekel, who up to them had been busy serving up assists, scored five straight, but Halperin's hot hand gave the hosts an eight point lead. Points by Rochestie cut Maccabi's deficit to 58-52 heading into the final quarter.
Duncan scored to put Jerusalem's lead close to double figures, but Hendrix and Mekel cut that to 61-56 two minutes into the fourth period. The home team put together a scoring run that made it 69-58 just past the five minute mark. Hendrix added a dunk on a dish from Pnini, but the hosts dominated the remainder of the game, which ended in a 73-66 loss for Maccabi FOX Tel Aviv.