Maccabi Hunter Haifa appeared to be rolling on all cylinders in the first half — racing out a 15-point halftime lead — but unfortunately for the Greens, the second half was a different story as Holon scored 52 points to sink Haifa late, 80-75. The third quarter completely swayed the momentum in Holon’s favor as they nearly matched their first-half scoring with 27 points to Haifa’s 15 points. In the final quarter, Holon climbed all the way back after Darion Atkins netted one of two from the line to take a 72-71 advantage at the 3:09 mark — their first lead since midway in the first quarter. Alex Perez and Oz Blayzer put Haifa back up three points, 75-72, with just over two minutes left in regulation, but Haifa’s mental mistakes down the stretch cost them as Atkins and Israeli put Holon nailed four shots to put the home team up, 76-75. Haifa had one last chance to win it, but Amit Simhon turned the ball over with 1.0 second left, which caused coach Offer Rahimi to get ejected after arguing the no-call. Holon’s Shlomi Harrush knocked down four straight free throws to ice the game and drop Haifa to 2-4 on the season.
“We made the wrong decisions on the offensive side at the end of the game,” Maccabi Hunter Haifa head coach Offer Rahimi said. “We built a good lead, but unfortunately the momentum changed. It’s a very hard feeling because we stuck to our game plan for most parts of the game, but we didn’t exploit our advantage at the end. I can see improvement in some aspects of the game, we are working very hard. We didn’t want to have a negative record now, as all the games we lost were close games.”
The Greens were paced by Will Graves’ 18 points (4/7 from downtown) and 7 rebounds, followed by Alex Perez who dropped 16 points, 4 rebounds and 5 assists (5 turnovers). Amit Simhon added 13 points and 6 boards, while Blayzer added 8 points (4/4 from the line) and 8 rebounds in 26 minutes. Off the bench, Willy Workman snared 10 rebounds and chipped in 6 points, while Tony Mitchell added 6 points and 6 rebounds in 29 minutes. Haifa shot just 38 percent (12/34) from the two-point, and registered a negative assist-to-turnover ratio (16 turnovers to 15 assists).
Holon’s Harrush scored a game-high 24 points on 7/16 from the field (7/7 from the line), while Atkins recorded a monster game on 23 points and 17 rebounds. Haifa-killer Khalif Wyatt added 19 points and 4 assists for Holon.
Maccabi started the game with Alex Perez, Orlando Mendez-Valdez, Amit Simhon, Oz Blayzer and Will Graves. Haifa jumped out to a 12-5 advantage, but Holon answered with an 8-0 run to take a 16-14 lead. Perez knotted the game up, and Mitchell and Graves were effective in the paint to put Haifa up 21-18. The Greens finished the first frame leading 23-20.
The second quarter was all Green, as Haifa’s defense clamped down as Simhon and Perez carried the team offensively with Perez nailing a 3-pointer to put Haifa up 15 points 40-25. Perez added a beautiful buzzer-beater from downtown to maintain a 15-point advantage, 43-28, going into the break.
Holon came out with a renewed sense of urgency as they raced out to a 15-3 run to start the third quarter as Atkins was dominant under the basket. Wyatt whittle the Haifa lead to 46: 40, but was called for his fourth foul as Haifa was able to return the gap to double-digits, 50-40, after a dunk by Blayzer on a beautiful feed from Mendez-Valdez. Graves buried a big 3-pointer and Simhon converted on a three-point play to put Haifa up 58-49. However, Harrush closed the quarter with 6 straight points as Haifa’s lead was cut to 58-55.
Harrush remained hot, converting on another 3-point play to bring Holon with two points, 60-58. A 3-pointer by Graves, who followed up with two more from the line, and Perez floater stretched the lead back stretched the lead back to 69-60. Harrush again burned Haifa with a 3-pointer as Holon answered with an 8-0 run, capped by a 3-pointer by Wyatt to make it 69-68 to Haifa with 3:09 left in the game. With Haifa up 75-74, a missed 3-point attempt by Graves with time left on the clock, allowed IsSraeli to run coast to coast and draw a foul Perez with 20 seconds left. The Holon captain scored twice and reclaimed 76-75 lead. After a timeout by Rahimi, Perez drove to the rim, but was blocked again by Atkins. Simhon was given one last chance to win it, but lost the ball.