By Amy Samin
Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv painted the city yellow in a thrilling and close game against arch-rivals Hapoel Tel Aviv, coming away with an 83-80 victory in week 26 of the Israeli Winner Sal League. Tyrese Rice led Maccabi's scorers with 15 points, while Alex Tyus and Yogev Ohayon contributed 13 points each. Devin Smith had 11 points and 7 rebounds, and Ricky Hickman scored 9 points.
David Blatt's starters were David Blu, Devin Smith, Ricky Hickman, Yogev Ohayon and Sofo Schortsanitis. Maccabi got off to a good start, running to 12-6 in the first four minutes. The hosts woke up and went on a 12-0 run that put them on top 20-14 with two minutes left in the period. Sofo and Ohayon scored for Maccabi, but Hapoel added eight more points to end the quarter leading 28-19.
Hickman and Alex Tyus scored to cut the deficit at the start of the second period, and a triple from Guy Pnini (assist Smith) brought Maccabi within six, 32-26 after three minutes of action. Maccabi put on the pressure defensively, while Smith, Rice and Blu scored to make it a four point game, 37-33 halfway through the quarter. Hapoel put together a string of buckets, while Sofo in the paint and Blu from downtown kept Maccabi close, but a last second trey by the hosts sent the teams into the halftime break with Hapoel leading 49-42.
Sofo, Blu and Ohayon kicked off the third quarter with points that put Maccabi within two, 50-48 after two minutes. Hapoel scored from downtown, but at the other end Tyus dominated the paint over the next few minutes, with two great assists by Hickman; 55-54 to Hapoel with four minutes left in the period. Tyrese Rice drove to the basket and a triple by Ohayon gave Maccabi a 59-57 lead with fifty seconds on the clock, but Hapoel tied it at 59 as time ran out.
Once again Maccabi scored first in the new quarter, but the score changed hands repeatedly over the next few minutes as the teams traded baskets. Smith fed Rice for a go-ahead bucket and Pnini added a clutch three pointer from the top of the arc (assist Rice) to make it 72-67. Smith added a three of his own off another assist by Rice, giving Maccabi a 75-69 lead with less than three and a half minutes remaining. Hapoel tried to close the gap, but two layups by Rice kept Maccabi in the lead. Fouls and free throws filled the final minutes, and in the end Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv defeated Hapoel Tel Aviv 83-80.