Basketball / Maccabi Stumbles Past Rishon

Maccabi Tel Aviv's painful tour of struggling wins against the bottom half of the league table continued yesterday with a 96-93 win over second-to-last Maccabi Rishon Letzion. Tel Aviv trailed the entire fourth quarter until the final two minutes of the game and only prevailed because of poor play-calling by the hosts during money time.

Rishon's Larry O'Bannon (18 points) ran rings around Maccabi in the final period until Pini Gershon inserted Tal Burstein to put an end to the point guard's antics. Avi Sukar and Gil Mossinson were less productive for Rishon, as both seemed hell-bent on making threes instead of moving the ball and finding open teammates.

Maccabi's MVP was Omri Casspi who, playing in front of a scout for the NBA's Atlanta Hawks, had a career night with 26 points, tarnished only by a missed free throw down the stretch as the team was trying to put away the game.

Poor free-throw shooting kept Rishon in the game during the final minute. Tel Aviv went on a 7-0 run to take a 92-88 lead but then only made four of its final eight attempts from the charity stripe. However, Rishon failed to set up any open threes and committed a turnover in the final minute.