Captain Blayzer’s perfect night from the field, Gaskins’ clutch shooting lifts Haifa to climactic home victory
Maccabi Hunter Haifa prevailed in a dramatic 98-95 victory over Gilboa/Galil (9-12) on Monday night at Romema. The win certainly didn’t come easy. For the second week in a row, the Greens relinquished nearly a 20-point lead. This time, late-game heroics by Trevor Gaskins sealed the critical win for Haifa (7-14), which lifted the Greens out of the cellar.
Captain Oz Blayzer paced Maccabi with a season-high 25 points on a perfect shooting night – 6-for-6 from the field and 9-for-9 from the line.
“I exhaled a sigh of relief at the end of the game because I remembered last game (against Herzliya), but this time we did it,” said captain Blayzer. “Still, we have to fix it and know how to close games.”
Trevor Gaskins recorded 17 points on 3-of-6 shooting from downtown and 5 assists. Zach Graham tallied 13 points on 3-of-4 shooting from three-point range and Roi Huber was solid with 11 points on 4-of-6 from the field. Maccabi connected on a season-high 13-of-23 shots (56%) from beyond the arc. Also, the Greens’ took care of the rock, dishing out 20 assists to only 12 turnovers.
Gilboa Galil’s trio of J’Covan Brown (31 points, 6 assists), Zach LeDay (26 points, 8 rebounds) and D’Angelo Harrison (18 points, 3 assists) gave Haifa all they could handle.
The Greens ran out a new starting five with Huber, Gaskins, Graham, Blayzer and Buckner. The combination worked well as Haifa burst out to a 21-9 advantage after a Blayzer steal and fastbreak dunk. The Greens finished the first quarter leading 26-13. Blayzer continued to shine in the second quarter as he finished the first half with 20 points, helping the Greens build a 52-37 lead over Galil going into the break.
In the second half, Gilboa/Galil continued to press the tempo as they trimmed Haifa’s lead down to 10 points, 76-66 to close the third frame. In the final quarter, Gilboa pulled within 76-71, but Gaskins’s buried back-to-back clutch 3-pointers to extend Haifa’s lead back to 82-71. Gilboa wasn’t finished with their comeback attempt, just as the Greens lost their composure. Buckner committed an offensive foul, causing coach Rahimi to pick up a tech as Gilboa closed the gap to five points, 88-83. With 1:51 left on the clock, Gilboa/Galil’s Brown knocked down a triple to knot the game at 92-92, which took the air out of the building. Gaskins responded with two game-changing baskets as Haifa eventually earned a wild 98-85 win.
“We made a lot of basic mistakes, a lot of bad decisions,” said a relieved coach Offer Rahimi after the game. “We must improve upon it, and it is very important that we know how to maintain our leads. I’m very happy about today’s win – it’s like a breath of fresh air.”
Maccabi will host Hapoel Jerusalem at Romema on Monday, April 2nd in the final game of the second round.