Maccabi Tel-Aviv Stunned at Home by Rishon

Maccabi Tel-AvivThe last time Maccabi Tel-Aviv lost a game to an Israel team was on January 30, 2012 when they dropped an Israel Winners League context to Maccabi Ashdod, 78-74. They went 23-2 in the league last year and had a 22 game winning streak against Israel teams as of yesterday. On Sunday, Maccabi Rishon Lezion traveled to the Nokia Arena for their third Winners League game of the season and left with a perfect 3-0 record after stunning the Tel Aviv squad with a 64:81 victory. It was Tel-Aviv’s first loss of their season in any league as they’ve started the Euroleague 2012-13 season 3-0.

Both squads were playing without key players as Rishon was missing point guard Lazeric Jones, who rolled his ankle in a workout on Saturday, and Tel-Aviv was without Devin Smith who did not suit up.

Rishon jumped out to an early 24-14 lead after the first quarter and extending to 25:43 at the half.

The Yellow and Blue never got the gap closer than 11 points in the second half, committing 21 turnovers in the contest and shooting 43% from the field largely due to Rishon’s solid defense the entire game.

“We prepared well for this game and won despite losing Jones to injury yesterday,” said Rishon head coach Effi Birenboim after the game. “This is only the beginning of the road, but this is a very significant win for us, although we must remember that it is just a single win.”

Adrian Uter and Julian Wright led the Rishon attack with an impressive 22 points and nine rebounds each. In Jones’ absence, Nitzan Hanochi got the call and came up big for the visitors tallying nine points, nine rebounds and seven assists on the day.

Maccabi Tel-Aviv was paced by Shawn James’ 19 points and Yogev Ohayon’s 12 points.

“Rishon deserve every credit,” Tel-Aviv’s head man David Blatt commented. “You have these days once every so often. We have no excuse or explanation.”

Photos by Oded Karni

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