It wasn’t easy but Maccabi Rishon LeZion wrote another chapter in the club’s history books by notching its first victory in the 7DAYS EuroCup on Wednesday. Rishon used a 16-0 run spanning the third and fourth quarters to take control of the game against AS Monaco, but watched as a 15-point fourth-quarter lead dwindled to just 2 points in the closing moments before surviving with a 77-72 home win.
With the game on the line, Coach Guy Goodes found salvation through his veterans. First Darryl Monroe's put-back ended a 2-14 Monaco run. Twice more, both in the final minute, Monaco got within 2 and each time Alex Hamilton came through with a pair of free throws to keep Rishon ahead by two possessions. Both Monroe and Hamilton are holdovers from last season's Rishon squad, which reached the Israeli League championship game before falling to Turkish Airlines EuroLeague side Maccabi FOX Tel Aviv.
The triumph on Wednesday came after Rishon had lost its first two games in Group A. On opening night, Rishon struggled mightily and was blown out 88-55 at home by Promitheas Patras. Last week, Rishon went on the road and put up a fight for three quarters before succumbing 96-77 at Segafredo Virtus Bologna in Round 2.
"I’m not satisfied yet. It’s a long season. It’s just a win, but we’ll take it," said Hamilton, who collected 22 points, 5 rebounds, 8 assists, 2 steals, 3 blocks and 10 fouls drawn for a performance index rating of 38.
"We’re just starting to come together and figure each other out. The new players are starting to figure out our system and we’re starting to get it going."
Rishon's performance has improved in each of its three EuroCup games to date as have the individual showings of both Hamilton and Monroe. Now the message has been sent to the rest of Group A: Do not take Rishon lightly.