In the Greens’ first game donning their new Hunter logo on the jerseys, Haifa preyed on the wounded Maccabi FOX Tel Aviv in a historic 91-56 rout, handing the Yellows their worst defeat in franchise history in front of 4,100 fans at RK Arena. It was the revenge Haifa was seeking after suffering a 40-point blowout defeat to Tel Aviv in their building as well as the State Cup loss at the buzzer at RK Arena.
“I understand what we did here today and I also know that it’s a process,” coach Rami Hadar. “With our guys, you can give them an army uniform and go to battle. It’s a very special team and it’s fun. Every practice, each game, also in the bad days and in disappointments. I don’t want to declare anything. I love the way we played tonight. We need to get the home advantage for the playoffs, which we haven’t secured yet, there is much more time. I have great faith in our players. The key was in the third quarter, but the guys were focused.”
John DiBartolomeo led four Maccabi Hunter Haifa players in double-figures, tallying game-high 22 points on 5-of-7 from downtown, as well as 5 rebounds. Gregory Vargas was outstanding with 21 points, 10 assists, and 5 rebounds, while Will Graves added 17 points on 7-of-13 shooting from the field. Reggie Buckner powered his way to 13 points and a game-high 8 rebounds. The Haifa defense held Tel Aviv to a mere 35 percent shooting from the field (21-of-60). The Greens made 13 three-point attempts (53 percent on the night), and outrebounded Tel Aviv 41-32.
“The loss in the Cup really hurt us, and just made us more hungry for this game,” DiBartolomeo said. “To be able to come out at home and perform the way we did and come out with a win, by such a large margin, it’s really nice, but I’m sure we’ll see these guys again so we’ll have to be prepared for a much harder game.”
Maccabi Hunter Haifa got off to a great start as Vargas kicked it off, nailing a 3-pointer on his way to 10-first quarter points. Colman buried a trey, and a great block by Rougeau led to a fast-break layup as to go up 13-5 at the 4:11 mark. Buckner enter the game and immediately scored in the paint and Blayzer capped it with a buzzer-beater as Haifa built a 21-9 lead over Tel Aviv.
DiBartolomeo lit it up in the second quarter as scored the first five points for the Greens on a jumper and 3-pointer to build a 26-11 cushion for Haifa. DiBartolomeo splashed in another three from the corner, and followed with a beautiful feed to Graves in the corner who netted a three-pointer to widen their lead to 39-16. The Greens shot 53 percent from downtown in the first half as they led Maccabi Tel Aviv 43-20 at the break. The Hunter Haifa defense was outstanding, holding Tel Aviv to 23.5 percent shooting from the field.
In the third quarter, the Greens continued to knock down shots as jumpers from Graves and Rougeau gave Haifa a 27-point advantage at 52-25. The ball movement from Haifa left Tel Aviv one step behind as the rock found Buckner underneath the rim for a layup to increase the gap to 58-33 at the 2:31 mark. After Buckner’s second dunk in a row put Haifa up 66-35, both teams needed to be separated as Buckner and
Ofoegbu got tangled up at the end of the quarter as the Green fans rose to their feet to cheer on their team.
The Greens added more fuel to the fire as Buckner burned Tel Aviv in the paint. while DiBartolomeo continued his amazing shooting night from beyond the arc with his fifth 3-pointer as the Greens cruised to the 35-point historic rout to notch their 12th win of the season.