Maccabi Hunter Haifa’s offense fell flat on Sunday night at Menora Mivtachim arena against Maccabi Tel Aviv as they fell 67-59 to Maccabi Tel Aviv. Offensively, it wasn’t pretty for the Greens, as they were held to just 3-of-17 (18%) from beyond the arc, turning the ball over 17 times to go along with a season-low 7 assists. Only two Haifa players scored in double figures, led by Reggie Buckner’s 13 points and 8 rebounds and 2 blocks, and 10 points and 5 assists (5 turnovers) from Gregory Vargas. Alex Chubrevich and Will Graves each added 9 points for Haifa, while Oz Blazyer and John DiBartolomeo each chipped in 5 points. Colman returned from injury, posting 6 points in 26 minutes.
The Yellows were paced by former Haifa forward Sylven Landesberg, who tallied 11 points, followed by Yogev Ohayon’s 10 points and 5 assists, and Gal Mekel’s 9 points and 7 assists.
“We shot 3-of-17 from three-points, and that’s the story – you have to score in order to create,” head coach Rami Hadar reflected. “Maccabi Tel-Aviv defended very well today, limited our guards and they deserve credit for this win. I’m completely satisfied with the effort, less with the first half, a lot of turnovers that didn’t allows us to get into our rhythm. We were stuck offensively and that was our problem. We are not such a talented team and when we make a lot of misses from the outside we struggle. The final four seems far away, we still have to win game in order to get the home advantage.”
“We got some open looks, that we usually score, but it’s a part of the game, sometime it just doesn’t get into the basket,” said Oz Blayzer. “We have to forget this game and concentrate on Wednesday. We had two not simple games against Jerusalem and Maccabi Tel-Aviv, but there are a lot more games until the playoffs, and I don’t think today says anything about the end. I hope next time it will be better. I was happy to see the Green fans coming to support us, we really wanted a win, today wasn’t good enough.”
The game began with Haifa’s defense holding Tel Aviv to two points through the first five minutes. The Greens grabbed a 5-2 advantage over the Yellows after Chubrevich converted on a basket and a foul, scoring Haifa’s first five points of the game. Tel Aviv finally responded with a 7-0 run to claim a 9-5 lead, sparked by several Haifa turnovers, which led to five straight points from Brian Randle. Vargas, Rougeau and Colman drew fouls to get to the line as Haifa whittled the deficit to 11-10 in favor of Tel Aviv. Pnini drained a 3-pointer at the buzzer to take a 15-10 edge over Haifa at the end of the first quarter.
Colman immediately scored on a drive to the rim, but Tel Aviv began to find their offensive rythym as Rochestie answered with a 3-pointer, and both Mekel and Pnini scored with layups to stretch their lead to 22-14 midway through the second frame. A baby hook from Buckner brought Haifa within 24-19, but Devin Smith scored a 3-pointer from the corner – his first points since returning from a month and half layoff. Graves attacked the basket and scored a layup at the buzzer to make it 27-21 at the break.
Graves followed up to score the first basket of the second half, but Tel Aviv responded to increase their lead to 32-23. Blayzer woke up with a nice basket and three, but Haifa would finish the third quarter trailing by 10 points, 46-36. In the final quarter, the Greens managed to cut a 12-point deficit to six points, 52-44 on a 6-0 Haifa run. However, Gal Mekel, hit a dagger 3-pointer, which broke Haifa’s momentum as the Greens dropped to 15-11 on the season. Haifa has a quick turnaround as they host Maccabi Ashdod on Wednesday night at RK Arena at 7pm.