Hapoel Holon advanced to the Israel basketball League Finals and will face Maccabi Tel Aviv on Thursday night at the Menora Mivtachim Arena. Tu Holloway (24p) and Jordan Hamilton (21p) led the way for Holon while Stratos Perperologou scored 19 points and Jerome Dyson drained 18 points in the loss.
Jordan Hamilton got off to a hot start for Hapoel Holon as he scored 10 points in the first frame while Startos Perperologou was Jerusalem’s high scorer with 5 points as Dan Shamir’s Holon took a slim 22-20 lead into the second quarter. Jerusalem coach Oded Katash surprised many by inserting Yogev Ohayon who had been injured for a number of months, early on in the quarter as the guard dished out a pair of assists but picked up 3 fouls in just a few minutes and was then subbed out. Tu Holloway, Guy Pnini and Hamilton paced Holon to a 46-41 halftime lead while Perperologou tried to keep it close for the Reds with 8 points in the frame.
Holon continued to attack the basket as Holloway and Hamilton helped increase their lead to 66-55 after 30 minutes of action as Jerusalem couldn’t get anything going. But the Reds came storming back thanks to fine play by Dyson who went 3/5 in the 4th quarter good for 10 points but it wasn’t enough to defeat Holon on this night as Chanan Colman drained a huge 3-pointer with 1:03 left in the game to give his side a 4 point advantage and the game.
1) The Glen Rice Jr. circus has begun. With him being unavailable for the game due to the suspension levied for 2 games once returning to country, Holon was able to gut out an enormous win over the defending champions. Tu Holloway and Jordan Hamilton scored 24 and 21 points respectively in the victory, however, all of their points came in the first 3 quarters as the two seemed to lose steam in the final frame and that’s where Rice will play a big factor on Thursday night against Maccabi. Dan Shamir spoke about how #41 will fit into his plans in the final, “Glen is not like a brand new player, but one who is familiar with the other players and knows the system. I’ll use him in the game but I doubt it will be for 40 minutes like in the State Cup Final. He’s here to help us and you saw how we were running on empty near the end, that’s how he will be able to help us.”
2) Jordan Hamilton has been a critical component to Holon’s offense since signing with the team a few months ago in place of Glen Rice Jr. so the question begs to be asked, who’s Holon will this be on Thursday night, Hamilton’s or Rice’s. I asked #25 following the game, “This is Holon’s team. It’s the fans. They deserve it more than anybody and they’ve been great since I’ve been here. I don’t look at it as me or Glen’s team. He’s a team guy. He can continue to help play make especially against Maccabi.”
3) I love coach Oded Katash, I really do. But I’ve got to question his game plan a bit. Why is Yogev Ohayon play 10 minutes in such a crucial game when he’s been out injured for a few months? Why didn’t captain Yotam Halperin play and where was Kalin Lucas? Halperin dressed for what could have been his last game in Jerusalem or perhaps his last game should he retire. What a shame that 5-10 minutes couldn’t have been found for the veteran. It’s just puzzling to me. The pair had played against Gilboa/Galil and to just change up the whole lineup after winning a quarterfinal series is just odd. Katash addressed the question and said, “Yogev came back and as a ball handler he was able to handle the pressure that Holon exhibited. Each player has their own qualities and have things that they can do and that doesn’t say anything about the players who didn’t play. There are matchups in basketball.” However, looking back at it, this is just a rough way to potentially end a Jerusalem career.
Chanan Colman hit a huge 3-pointer with 1:03 left the game to seal the deal for Holon and send them to the finals. The Danish marksman always seems to have the knack of scoring the big basket as we have seen him do year after year in the Israeli league. I spoke to the guard following the game, “We’re going to the finals so that’s big and it was a great feeling to hit the big 3-pointer. I feel like we controlled most of the game and then all of a sudden they made a great run and we had problems scouting. So it’s great to win a battle like that.” Colman also chimed in on Rice’s return, “It’s going to be a huge factor. We all know what Glen can do and now that we have him and Jordan on the wing that’s going to cause some trouble.”