Greens drop fourth straight, Maccabi shooting woes continue
RISHON LEZION — Maccabi Hunter Haifa’s shooting struggles continued into the second round on Monday night against Rishon Lezion — despite keeping it close on the road through three quarters. But a quick 8-0 Rishon burst to open the fourth quarter put the home team up by 15 points (65-50) as Haifa was faced with too much of an uphill climb to dig themselves out of. The loss was Maccabi’s fourth straight defeat (including the State Cup) as they dropped to 4-8 on the season.
“Our shooters don’t have confidence right now, you can see it when they take open shots,” Offer Rahimi said after an 87-73 loss to Rishon Lezion in which Maccabi shot 37.8 percent (25-of-66) from the field.
The Greens were tied with Rishon at the end of the first frame (16-16), but Maccabi managed to take a 30-26 lead midway through the second stanza after a Zach Graham bucket. Rishon answered with a 10-3 run to close the first half — capped by a buzzer-beater triple by Jason Siggers as Haifa trailed by three points, 36-33, at the break.
“We didn’t play well in the first half, as well,” Rahimi added. “We didn’t play smart, although we did attack better. We didn’t execute well on offense and we didn’t do what we wanted on defense.”
Five out of the nine active Haifa players carried the load offensively, with three Haifa players (Bourdillon, Huber, and Koperberg) putting up blanks in scoring while Bowman scored just two points on the evening. Guni Israeli sat out with a skin infection, and Yivzori is still recovering from a knee injury, so the Greens were shorthanded — to say the least.
Graham finished the game as Maccabi’s leading scoring with 18 points, but couldn’t find his rhythm for most of the contest — shooting 6-of-15 (40 percent) from the field. Reggie Buckner was Haifa’s most efficient player on the court, dropping 16 points on 5-of-6 from the field — including 6-of-7 from the line — while snaring 6 caroms in 22 minutes. Captain Oz Blayzer recorded 14 points and 5 rebounds, while Angel Rodriguez tallied 12 points and 7 assists. Willy Workman recorded his second straight double-double with 11 points and a career-high 12 rebounds in the defeat.
The return of Rishon Lezion’s Drew Crawford was the difference-maker. The forward dropped a game-high 19 points and pulled down 5 rebounds. Rishon shot the lights out of the ball, connecting on 52.6 percent of their shot attempts (30-of-56) from the floor — including 58 percent (11-of-19) from beyond the arc. Mark Tollefson recorded 17 points, Jason Siggers added 13 points, and Yaniv Solomon chipped 12 points for Rishon.
Maccabi Hunter Haifa’s next game is against Maccabi Ashdod on Sunday, January 14 at 8:00 p.m. at Romema.