It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish. Despite a strong first half, Maccabi Hunter Haifa, yet again, could not hold on to a lead in the fourth quarter. Ironi Ness Ziona outscored Maccabi, 20-11, in the final period as Haifa lost a tight one, 74-71, on Monday night on the road — extending the Greens’ losing streak to six games among all competions.
Maccabi’s 3-point shooting was abysmal — connecting on a season-low 11 percent (2-of-18). Their free throw shooting wasn’t much better — netting a season-low 50 percent (13-of-26) from the line.
“We missed a lot from the line, we drew a lot of fouls, but we missed a lot,” a disappointed Offer Rahimi said after the game. “On the other hand, they made some big shots. I think we could have attacked better at the end, but it’s not easy. I have a responsibility of what’s happens here in the team and I hope we will be able to reverse this situation.”
Things were looking up in the first quarter for the Greens. Reggie Buckner and Zach Graham dominated from the start. Workman also joined in on the fast start as Haifa raced out to a 23-12 advantage.
Ness Ziona answered in the second quarter to trim the Haifa lead down to two, however, the Greens managed to take an 8-point lead, 38-30, going into the halftime break.
The Greens maintained a small edge in the third quarter as the two Puerto Rican National Team point guards, Angel Rodriguez and Ness Ziona’s Gary Browne Ramirez went at it. Graham final basket of third period as Maccabi held a 60-54 edge.
With Haifa scoring only 11 points in the fourth, Ness Ziona were able to claim their first lead of the game midway through the final period. Maccabi traded leads with Ness Ziona, but Brown scored five straight to open up a 70-66 lead with 3:06 remaining in regulation. Haifa cut it back to one point after Graham converted on a 3-point play, but he missed an important drive at the end as the Greens succumbed to Ness Ziona, 74-71.
Graham finished the night with a game-high 18 points, but has yet to find his range from long-distance (1-of-7 from 3-PT). Angel Rodriguez added 14 points on 4-of-14 shooting, while corralling 4 rebounds and dishing out 3 dimes. Reggie Buckner recorded a double-double 11 points and a season-high 12 rebounds, but struggled from line (3-of-9).
The Greens host first place Maccabi Tel Aviv at Romema on Sunday at 21:05.