By Amy Samin
Maccabi FOX Tel Aviv defeated Hapoel Eilat 88-85 on the road in round 31 of the Israeli Winner Sal League. Gal Mekel was top scorer with 29 points, Yogev Ohayon contributed 13 points, 7 assists, and 5 steals, and Sylven Landesberg added 9 points.
Starters for Maccabi were Dagan Yivzori, Itay Segev, Sylven Landesberg, Trevor Mbakwe, and Gal Mekel. The hosts got off to a strong start, running to 9-0 before Coach Tabak called a time out, three minutes into the game. Maccabi finally got on the scoreboard with points from Yivzori, Segev, and Yogev Ohayon, but with two and a half minutes left in the period the yellows still trailed 16-5. Richard Hendrix and Mekel helped close the gap a little, and the first quarter ended with Maccabi down 17-11.
It took Guy Pnini and Mekel less than a minute to tie the score at 17 as the second period got underway. Mekel took charge, scoring ten straight points to make it 27-22 halfway through the quarter. The hosts worked to stay close, as points by Mbakwe, Landesberg, and Ohayon were answered by Eilat. At the half, Maccabi held a 40-35 lead.
The second half started with free throws by Mbakwe, a dunk from Segev, and a layup by Ohayon that gave Maccabi a 46-37 lead. Eilat stayed close, and by the halfway mark Maccabi's lead was down to four, 50-46. Taylor Rochestie, Landesberg, Hendrix, and Dragan Bender extended the lead, and the third quarter ended with Maccabi up 60-53.
Hendrix's four points at the start of the final period protected Maccabi's lead, and Segev and Mekel combined to put that lead in double figures, 70-60 in the middle of the quarter. It didn't take Eilat long to respond, but buckets by Ohayon and Landesberg gave Maccabi some breathing room, 78-72 with two and a half minutes left in the game. Those final minutes saw the hosts make a determined comeback, pulling to within two points several times, but in the end, Maccabi FOX Tel Aviv defeated Hapoel Holon 88-85.