By Amy Samin
Maccabi FOX Tel Aviv defeated Bnei Herzliya 76-75 in game 1 of the Israeli Winner Sal League quarterfinals. Sylven Landesberg led Maccabi's scorers with 21 points and 7 rebounds. Gal Mekel added 14 points, and Itay Segev had an impressive 11 points and 14 rebounds.
Maccabi's starters were Gal Mekel, Itay Segev, Dagan Yivzori, Sylven Landesberg, and Trevor Mbakwe. The teams traded baskets at the start of the game, and after three minutes the score was 6-6. A triple by Yivzori and two dunks by Segev put Maccabi up 13-9 near the halfway mark. Landesberg, who showed great ability at both ends of the court, increased Maccabi's lead with a dunk on the fast break (assist Brian Randle), 17-12 with less than three minutes left in the quarter. Herzliya woke up and closed the gap to a single point, but a dunk by Randle ended the period with Maccabi holding a 21-18 lead.
Maccabi struggled to score at the start of the second quarter, and the visitors took advantage, tying the score at 26 after four minutes. Mekel scored his first points of the game and, together with Mbakwe put Maccabi's lead close to double digits, 36-28. Four free throws by Richard Hendrix ended the half with Maccabi up 40-32.
Despite points from Mekel and Mbakwe, the start of the second half belonged to Herzliya, who had cut their deficit to 44-43 after four minutes. A three pointer and a steal by Yogev Ohayon, Landesberg on the fast break, and Segev in the paint reopened the yellows' lead to eight, 51-43 halfway through the quarter. Once again the visitors got close, making it a two point game but Segev and Ohayon gave Maccabi some breathing room as the third period ended, 59-54.
A catch and shoot from Guy Pnini outside the arc and Landesberg from the foul line put Maccabi back up by ten, two minutes into the final quarter. Herzliya continued to battle, and once again closed to two, 66-64 with three and a half minutes left. Mekel put a stop to the visitors' run, and Landesberg added a bucket and one to give Maccabi a 7 point lead. Again the visitors closed to one, 73-72 with :17 on the clock, but key free throws by Ohayon and a huge rebound on defense by Segev (who was fouled on the play and added a point from the foul line) helped to give Maccabi a 76-75 victory over Bnei Herzliya and a 1-0 lead in the quarterfinal series.