The Greens stayed alive on Thursday night with a gutty 69-62 win at Romema to tie the series at 2-2, and force a fifth and decisive game in Eilat. It appeared Haifa was slowly falling after holding a lead throughout the first three and half quarters of the game against Hapoel Eilat. The Greens surrendered their advantage for the first time in the game at 52-51, and a few possessions later, an Afik Nissim jumper knotted the contest at 54-54 in the fourth quarter. However, the Greens’ captain, Dagan Yivzori drained the biggest shot of the season from downtown to put Haifa up three, and notched a steal down late in the fourth quarter to lift Haifa to victory. Haifa will look to overcome Eilat on the road in Game 5 on Sunday.
Moran Roth tallied a team-high 17 points for Haifa, while Rene Rougeau held down the fort with 14 points and 9 rebounds. Ike Ofoegbu registered a double-double on 10 points and 15 rebounds.
“Everyone just kept fighting, AD, and Ike has been our anchor. Moran, Doogie and Alex hit some big shots,” Rougeau said. “It was a tough one to play, but we had great patience tonight. We said we didn’t want this to be the last day of our season. We just need to do the same thing on the road, take care of the ball, and stay out of foul trouble.”
For the second straight game, Maccabi Bazan Haifa made a statement in the first quarter taking a 26-17 lead, but gave their advantage right back in the second quarter. In the first peiod, Eilat couldn’t match Haifa’s tempo and defensive pressure. Rene Rougeau was sharp with 9 points, while Ike Ofoegbu not only scored 5 points, but dished out 3 assists in the quarter. Alex Chubrevich’s presence was felt early in the paint on 4 points and 4 rebounds as the Greens took a commanding 26-7 lead to close the period.
Like a replay of the game before, Haifa stumbled in the second quarter, on 1-of-14 from the field as Eilat got right back into the game. The Greens’ lead was cut to 32-27 going into the break as Bryan Asbury caught fire with 12 points for Eilat.
Eilat continued their momentum into the third quarter as they closed withing two points, 36-34, on a Wyatt jumper midway through the stanza. The Greens’ Rougeau spurred a 6-0 run as Haifa widened their lead back to 42-34 at the 4:45 mark. Haifa closed the quarter, clinging to a 49-45 lead over Eilat.
In the fourth quarter, Eilat remained determined as they chipped away at Haifa to capture their first lead of the game, 53-52, on an Asbury layup. Alex Chubrevich answered with a turnaround lefty hook to reclaim Haifa’s advantage on the other end of the court. Dagan Yivzori put the Greens over the top with the three-pointer, and a steal by Roth and fast break point put the Greens over the hump. Haifa made their free throws down the stretch to beat Eilat and live another day.