Maccabi Haifa is on a roll as they earned their fourth straight victory (among all competitions) with another outstanding defensive performance in a 79-61 rout over Hapoel Eilat at RK Arena. Haifa’s defensive pressure limited Hapoel Eilat to just 31 percent (15-of-48) from two-point range on the evening. Will Graves’ resurgence has come just at the right time for Haifa as he dropped 24 points (matching his career-high set last week) on 7-of-14 from the field while snaring 8 rebounds off the bench in the win.
“I think we just came out and really played really hard defensively, and when we play hard on defense, and we give 100 percent effort, our offensive comes easily,” Graves said. When asked about drawing Maccabi Tel Aviv in the State Cup quarterfinals at RK Arena, Graves added, “That’s a big for us. Last time we played them (Maccabi Tel Aviv), we lost by 40 points, so that’s on our minds, and we’re prepared and ready to face them.”
Rene Rougeau added 14 points, 7 rebounds and 2 assists, and John DiBartolomeo contributed 13 points on 4-of-8 from beyond the arc. Haifa distributed the ball beautifully tonight (23 assists) and limited their turnovers (11) with guard Gregory Vargas dishing out 8 assists, contributing 8 points and 6 rebounds, while captain Chanan Colman notched 7 dimes and chipped in 3 points.
Hapoel Eilat was paced by Khalif Wyatt’s 15 points, while bigman Alade Aminu notched a double-double on 12 points and 12 assists in Eilat’s 8th loss of the season.
Graves’ hot shooting started early as he tallied 14 points in the first quarter, but the Greens couldn’t shake Eilat so quickly as Haifa held a slim lead, 21-17, at the end of the first quarter. It was John DiBartolomeo’s turn to get hot in the second quarter as he lit it up from downtown, tallying his 13 points by the half as Haifa ensued on a 16-0 run to build a 38-19 lead over Eilat midway through the quarter. Eilat responded with their own 7-0 run, but Haifa mitigated the damage as they went into the break leading 43-31 over Eilat. In the second half, the Greens broke the game open with Blayzer scoring from inside and at the line, and Graves continued to hurt Eilat from beyond the arc as Haifa cruised to a 79-61 win to improve to 8-5 on the season.