After holding a perfect 16:0 record in the Israeli league, Maccabi Fox Tel Aviv suffer their first loss in the domestic league, 81:86 to Hapoel Eilat. Deni Avdija was one of the only bright lights in Giannis Sfairopoulos's squad, finishing the night with an incredible career-high scoring 26 points and 6 rebounds. Othello Hunter dominated inside the paint, adding 18 points while grabbing 12 rebounds. The Yellow & Blue expect a tough week ahead, hosting Khimki Moscow in Menorah Mivtachim Arena on Wednesday night and on Friday, playing against Fenerbahce in the Turkish capital, Istanbul.
Scottie Wilbekin, Elijah Bryant, Deni Avdija, Quincy Acy, and Othello Hunter opened in Maccabi's starting five. Avdija scored the visitor's first five points, 5:2. Wilbekin completed a four-point play, Jake Cohen scored and then dished an assist to Avidja (11 first-quarter points) who led the Yellow & Blue to a 12:0 run, 19:7. Eilat responded with 7 unanswered points, but Cohen scored on the final buzzer that gave Maccabi a 23:16 advantage after the first 10 minutes.
Both teams scored only 2 points in the first 3 minutes, having a tough time finding the basket, 25:18. Acy drove down the baseline and slammed it down, as Bryant ran coast to coast for an easy layup, 30:22. Rafi Menco cut the lead by half, but Wilbekin hit a transition three that made Arik Alfasi take a timeout, 36:29. Dori Sahar joined the scorer's list closing the first half with a Yellow & Blue 38:31 lead.
Kyvon Davenport and Menco started the second half on fire combining for 5 three-pointers that gave the host's their first lead since the first minute, 42:48. Hunter grabbed two offensive boards and sank them in to minimize the damage down to 2, while Wilbekin and Avdija hit shots from deep, 54:54. With 2 seconds left in the third, Rayvonte Rice knocked in both free throws that tied it at 56, heading into the final period.
Rice and Jonathan Skjoldebrand continued Eilat's second-half tear from deep that ramped up the lead back to five, but Acy and Dorsey kept Maccabi in striking distance, 61:64. Ziv Ben Zvi and Skjoldebrand scored 8 unanswered points, which gave the southern city a double-digit advantage, 61:72. Hunter scored 6 straight for Maccabi that reduced the lead down to 6, less than 4 minutes to the final buzzer. Avdija hit two consecutive three-pointers that cut the lead in half, 73:76. Skjoldebrand's three gave Eilat a 6 point advantage, but Hunter and an NBA distance three-pointer by Bryant, decreased the edge down to 1, 78:79 with 28 seconds left. From that point on, the game was decided from the free-throw line, Maccabi fouled Rice, who secured two, the host's decided to foul Avdija who hit one and Davenport also hit one of two that gave Eilat a three-point advantage, 79:82. Avdija reduced it down to 1, on the other end, Bryant fouled out as Rice knocked both shots. Avdija was sent to the line once again, missed the first, and missed the second on purpose, but Hunter couldn't hold on to the rebound, 3.2 seconds to the buzzer. Rice sealed the final score with two more from the free-throw line, 81:86 Eilat.