FINAL: Hapoel Eilat 77, Maccabi Hunter Haifa 75

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Greens can’t hold off Eilat surge, drop sixth straight game

Box Score

In Barak Peleg’s debut as head coach, Maccabi Hunter Haifa appeared to be on their way to sealing a come-from-behind road victory against Hapoel Eilat on Sunday evening.  At the 3:52 mark of the fourth quarter, Maccabi’s Trevor Gaskins scored a bucket to put Haifa up 73-66. The Greens had battled back to that point to build a 7 point lead after trailing by as many as 12 points in a lethargic first quarter.

But the Greens, once again, couldn’t seal the deal when it mattered most.  Hapoel Eilat stunned Haifa – holding Maccabi scoreless for the next 3 minutes – using an 11-0 run to rally past the Greens as Haifa fell 77-75.  Maccabi (7-20) dropped their sixth consecutive game, and are in danger of finishing in last place with only six games remaining in the regular season.  Haifa will be scoreboard watching as they trail Ironi Nahariya by 3 points, which plays Bnei Herzliya tomorrow.

“It was close, but we lacked mainly concentration,” said head coach Barak Peleg after the game.  “I think it is a symptom that’s repeated itself from previous games.  The team leads and there is a certain fear to be in this situation, you can see it in the reactions and pressure from the players. It’s new to me, and while I’m trying to learn who’s good at what in order to make adjustments, it didn’t work for me today.  But it gave me many things to think about.”

The Greens had a forgettable first quarter as Eilat’s Jordan Loyd, who finished with a game-high 28 points and 8 assists, got off to a blazing start.  He scored 10 points in the first frame to help build a 22-13 lead over the Greens.

Maccabi’s Dagan Yivzori (14 points on 6-of-7 shooting in 18 min.), and Brandon Bowman (10 points in 15 minutes) provided a much-needed spark off the bench as Haifa trimmed the gap to 37-34 in favor of Eilat at the halftime break.

Trevor Gaskins (14 points) picked up the pace in the third frame, scoring five straight points to knot the score at 39-39.  Angel Rodriguez (8 points and 7 assists) and Zach Graham (14 points) buried 3-pointers as Graham scored the final points of the third quarter to give Haifa a 61-59 edge.

Buckets by Bowman and Buckner, along with a triple by Yivzori put Haifa up by 8 points, 68-60, at the 7:42 mark of the fourth quarter.  After Eilat’s Loyd and former Haifa guard Frederic Bourdillon tightened the score at 68-64, Gaskins splashed in a 3-pointer and scored another bucket to put Haifa up 73-66.  That’s when the wheels came off for Haifa.  Demetrius Treadwell (15 points, 11 rebounds) started the Eilat 11-0 run as Loyd capped it with a 3-pointer to put the home team up 77-73.  Oz Blayzer scored with 46 seconds left in the game.  Derwin Kitchen was fouled, missing both free throws with 11 seconds left.  But the Greens couldn’t capitalize as Treadwell blocked Gaskins to finish the game.