FINAL: Maccabi Hunter Haifa 74, Hapoel Holon 81

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Maccabi falls to Holon on the road, drop to last place

Box Score

Heading into Saturday night’s matchup against second place Hapoel Holon in search for a way to end a 7-game losing skid, Maccabi Hunter Haifa looked to turn things around on the road.  Instead, the Greens (4-12) would fall behind early, playing catch-up the entire contest before suffering an 81-74 defeat — their eighth straight loss among all competitions.

“We lost a lot of balls and our three-point shooting percentage was not good, but we will continue to work hard. We will try to change things and make adjustments,” Maccabi coach Offer Rahimi said after the loss.

Rahimi tried to spark the Greens, rolling out a new lineup of Guni Israeli, Zach Graham, Willy Workman, Brandon Bowman and Reggie Buckner.  The new look didn’t help as the Greens found themselves in an early 10-3 hole to Holon.  Graham nailed a 3-pointer, hoping to ignite the Haifa offense to make it 10-6 in favor of Holon.  Angel Rodriguez and Roi Huber came off the bench and scored, trimming the gap to five points. But, former Green guard Chanan Colman nailed a triple at the buzzer at the end of the first quarter as the home team upped their lead to 22-14.

Holon was led by Glen Rice Jr., who finished the night with a game-high 32 points, 10 rebounds and 4 assists, and gave Haifa fits all game long.  Rice and T.J. Cline helped push Holon’s lead to double-figures early in the second frame, but the Greens’ captain Oz Blayzer and Roi Huber answered with back-to-back treys to trim the gap to 28-24 with 6:10 left in the second, forcing Dan Shamir to call a timeout.   Holon answered with a 7-0 run as the Greens fell into a 42-29 hole at the half.

After Holon continued to push the tempo to begin the second half, the Green reeled off a 7-0 run to whittle the gap to 51-40.  Holon’s Rice was relentless as he helped extend the home team’s lead.  Dagan Yivzori netted a 3-pointer as Haifa trailed 63-50 at the end of the third frame.

The Greens opened the final quarter on a 11-4 run as Blayzer sparked the rally, converting on a three-point play on a fast break. Workman followed with a 3-pointer and Buckner scored inside as the Greens tightened the score to 67-61 with 5:59 left in regulation.  Rice broke up the Greens’ momentum with a 3-pointer, but Maccabi still had more fight left.

Trailing by 74-63, Graham capped a furious 11-3 comeback attempt with a 3-pointer to bring Haifa within 77-74 with just under a minute left in the game.  That’s as close as the Greens would come, as Holon’s Holloway and Rice sealed the game.

“The situation is not good. We are there in almost all the games but always miss it at the end,” said Guni Israeli.  “We need a little bit of different energy to survive in the league, but we have team of fighters here and we will continue to fight.”

Maccabi was paced by Rodriguez who tallied a team-high 13 points, 3 rebounds and 5 assists, but struggled to control the rock with 7 turnovers, tying a season-high.  Oz Blayzer and Reggie Buckner scored 12 points apiece, and Zach Graham finished with 10 points on 4-of-12 shooting, rounding out the four Haifa players who scored in double figures.

The Greens’ struggles continued from three-point range, shooting 25 percent (8-of-32).  Graham, Yivzori, and Rodriguez shot a combined 4-of-21 (19 percent).

Maccabi returns home on Sunday, February 11 as they host Ironi Nahariya, before the team has two weeks off.