It wasn’t pretty, but the Greens will take it, earning a dramatic 77-76 victory over Maccabi Rishon Lezion. With every game having more significance, Haifa improved to 11-13, extending the team’s winning streak to three games.
Ike Ofoegbu led Haifa with 18 points and eight rebounds, with Moran Roth adding 16 points and five assists.
“We won an important game tonight, and I don’t think both teams played great basketball with a lot of overturns,” said Roth. “Both teams fought hard, and we respect Rishon for that. After a bad first half, we came out like a cannon in the second. Rami was frustrated with the leading players, and we took the responsibility on our shoulders. Most important, we won.”
The game was close right from the beginning with the game tied at 7-7 early in the first quarter. Haifa’s Moran Roth and Rishon’s Dowson were hot from both sides, and two points by Carmichael set a one point advantage for the Orange and White. The quarter closed with five straight points by Ofoegbu and Yivzori as took a 21-18 lead at the end of the first quarter. In the second quarter, Rishon went on a 13-2 run to claim an advantage over Haifa, consistently getting to the foul line as they took an 8 point gap, 47-39, over Haifa into the half.
The seconed half opened with a nice run by the Greens, led by Roth, Rougeau and Ofoegbu, to tie the game, causing Rishon coach Sharon Druker to call a time-out. Chubrevich made several nice shots, while Roth and Ofoegbu crossed the double-figures mark as the third quarter closed with a 63-59 lead for the Greens.
Both teams struggled to keep the ball, committing several sloppy turnovers. The game was decided on the foul line as Rishon’s Tony Younger buckled under the pressure, missing an important foul shot that would have tied the game with 5.2 seconds left. Rishon had another chance to win the game, but Nitzan Hanochi missed a three-point shot attempt at the buzzer, as Maccabi Haifa edged Rishon 77-76.
“I think that we came a little bit complacent in the first half and we were not concentrated and sharp,” said coach Rami Hadar. “In the second half, we played like we should play and with two to three better decisions, we could won the game with a bigger margin. We won because of the players’ willingness to sacrifice.”