Just one day after blowing out Helos Domzale in the Adriatic League, Maccabi Tel-Aviv was able to take care of business against Habikaa with an 89-79 win on the second night of a back-to-back. Behind the efficient play of Richard Hendrix, Maccabi overcame a slow start, dominating the second half. In the post-game press conference, Hendix reminded everyone that Maccabi struggled earlier this season in their back-to-back set, and came back with extra focus to earn the W in both games. For a player like Hendrix, proving that he can thrive in back-to-back games should do wonders for his NBA stock. He has shown this year that he can be a force in the paint on both sides of the basket. He’s shown a more polished game around the basket, and has an excellent shot selection to go along with his excellent rebounding and paint defense. With his improvement this season, Hendrix is proving that he could be a great fourth big on some NBA teams.
Habikaa came out strong in the first half, leading by double digits in the second quarter. However, they had problems defending the pick and roll, and had a stagnant offense in the second half, causing them to struggle on Maccabi’s home floor. After leading with hustle in the first half, Habikaa got crushed on 50/50 balls in the second half, which stopped their momentum. Despite 25 points from Paul Delaney, Habikaa wasnt able to keep up with Maccabi’s depth for 40 minutes.
Newcomer Frank Robinson finally had his breakout game, scoring 19 in the first half on his way to 21 points. With a vastly improved mid-range jumper, Robinson showed that he could more than replace the production of recently departed Danillo Pinnock, once he finds his rhythm with the team. When asked how they lost the game, Robinson said, “I think we didn’t finish the game defensively like we started it. They beat us to to loose balls and offensive rebounds. Also, offensively, we struggled to score in the 3rd quarter, which hurt us a lot and we really never recovered from that run.”
Robinson and Habikaa showed a lot of heart keeping up with Maccabi for parts of this game, and showed some signs of improvement. The team from Givat Shmuel will have another chance to prove themselves next week against Hapoel Jerusalem. While a lot of positives can come from the game for Habikaa, moral victories have no impact in the standings.