The Greens’ Cinderella story continues as they oust the Yellows at Menora
Maccabi Hunter Haifa came into Menora Mivtachim Arena on Monday night’s Final Four contest with no fear. The Greens were riding a wave of confidence after eliminating first place Hapoel Holon last week, and there was no let down.
Kevinn Pinkney paced Maccabi Hunter Haifa with 20 points and 9 rebounds and John DiBartolomeo posted 19 points to seal a dominating 85-74 victory over Maccabi Tel Aviv. The Greens advanced to the Israeli Winner League Championship game against Hapoel Jerusalem on Thursday in Tel Aviv.
Haifa led Monday night’s from start to finish as Gregory Vargas and co. set the pace from the tip. Vargas recorded a team-high 8 assists to go along with 14 points and 8 rebounds. His presence was felt immensely on both sides of the floor, warranting his Defensive Player of the Year status. Amit Simhon dropped 10 points and 5 rebounds and Willy Workman came off the bench to contribute 9 points and 7 rebounds in 23 minutes. Captain Oz Blayzer chipped in 9 points in the victory.
Maccabi Tel Aviv was led by guard Andrew Goudelock who posted 24 points in their defeat. Former Haifa guard Gal Mekel added 12 points and Victor Rudd and D.J. Seely posted 10 points apiece.
The Greens shot 88 percent from the free throw line on 23-of-26 attempts, while shooting 37 percent from beyond the arc. Haifa also controlled the glass — outrebounding the Yellows 43-30.
After taking a 39-30 lead at the break, Tel Aviv made a run to whittle the Haifa lead down to three — the closest they would get on the evening. Haifa responded with a 15-4 run to close the third frame out with a 61-47 edge, led by Pinkney’s inside game, DiBartolomeo’s clutch shooting and Workman’s grit.
DiBartolomeo, who was held scoreless in the first half, buried a four-point dagger in Guy Pnini’s face in the beginning of the fourth quarter to put Haifa up 67-49. The Greens held a comfortable lead throughout the final frame as they celebrated with their fans on Tel Aviv’s home court.
On Thursday, Haifa will play in their fourth Israeli League Final in the last nine seasons when they match against Hapoel Jerusalem.