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Israel Basketball Gameday 17

Maccabi Tel Aviv 92-86 Maccabi Ashdod
Maccabi Tel Aviv rolled to another win against Maccabi Ashdod this time 92-86 after beating them in last week’s Winner League semifinal matchup. Maccabi led for the length of the game but Ashdod kept it close throughout as they never trailed by more than 9 at the end of any quarter. Leading the way was Pierre Jackson, John Dibartolomeo, and Deshaun Thomas. Jackson had a double-double with 10 points and 10 assists along with 5 boards and 3 steals and the former Division 3 star Dibartolomeo did it all as he scored 11 and dished 7 assists to go with 5 boards and a couple steals. Thomas led the team in scoring off the bench with 20 points en route to the 6-point win.

As usual, any hope Ashdod had to come out victorious was because of the play from former University of Nebraska guard Sek Henry. The veteran led all scorers with 29 points and put that together with 5 team-leading assists and 3 team-leading steals. Cameron Long, Nimrod Levi, and Gerald Lee were the other contributors in the way of scoring, making it a pretty traditional game for Ashdod. Ashdod faces a tough Hapoel Holon team in two weeks while Maccabi has a Euroleague clash on Thursday when they’ll face Unicaja.

Following the contest Neven Spahija apologized for his reaction during the State Cup Semifinal and also talked about how important it was to get the win, move on and see the mental toughness of the team following Thursday night’s defeat.”

Deshaun Thomas spoke about the match:
“It feels good to get that W. Put a little pressure off of us. That’s part of the game, so it feels really good.”

Getting over the loss:
“Yeah it was a tough loss against Holon in the State Cup Final. But it’s not the end. You’ve got the Israeli league and Euroleague so there’s a lot more games to play.”

Attempting to contain shooters:
“Well here we play in a system where everyone is getting looks so when you go up against guys who’s the man on the team who takes a lot of shots it’s tough. You’ve just gotta contain guys like that cause you know that guy is going to go out there and get 25 shots up. He’s gonna get 20 or 18 points. You’ve gotta make it not as easy as possible for guys like that.”

Maccabi Rishon Le’Zion 97-102 Hapoel Holon
Glen Rice Jr. came up big yet again as he led his Holon side to victory in overtime after Maccabi Rishon gave them a scare. Holon dug themselves into a big hole after losing the first 3 quarters and trailing by 16 heading into the final frame. They needed to rally in the 4th quarter to have a chance and they did just that, winning the final frame 33-17. Glen Rice Jr. had a near triple-double of 27 points, 12 rebounds, and 7 assists plus drew 15(!) fouls. But more importantly Rice Jr. saved the game for Holon on what was easily the play of the game, and perhaps the season. With 2 seconds on the clock and trailing by 2, Tu Holloway was at the line and had one free throw remaining. On a purposely missed shot, that everyone knew he was going to clank off the rim, Rice Jr. came swooping in and banked it back in to tie the game and send it to OT. Tu Holloway had 25 points in the contest as the star duo paved the way to the 102-97 OT win.

In 40 minutes on the court, Murphy Holloway led all scorers with 28 points and also had 13 rebounds and 5 steals. Drew Crawford, former Northwestern star and son of famous NBA referee Dan Crawford, had 25 points and 5 boards. Also logging a ton of minutes of was veteran point guard Avi Ben Chimol who had 13 points and 7 assists in 41 minutes played.
Hapoel Holon goes head-to-head with Maccabi Ashdod in two weeks while Maccabi Rishon will face Ironi Nahariya.

Bnei Herzliya 71-84 Hapoel Eilat
In a game between two teams toward the bottom of the rankings, #8 ranked Eilat defeated last place Herzliya 84-71 in a comeback victory. Held to only 14 points in the first quarter, Eilat used a strong scoring performance from their starting lineup led by Jordan Lloyd’s 21 points and dominant rebounding to come out on top. Eilat shot 67% from 2 point range and 42% from 3. On an team lacking talent and confidence and while facing a hot shooting team, Shawn Dawson did everything possible to keep the game tight. Despite his incredible statline (21 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists, and 3 steals), the difference in firepower was incredibly evident in this game. Sitting just over halfway through the season, Herzliya must change something or else relegation is a real possibility.

Ironi Nes Ziona 88-79 Hapoel Jerusalem
This week 17 matchup between #10 Nes Ziona and #3 Hapoel Jerusalem was a reminder of how competitive the Israeli league is. It was a game between the league’s second best defense against the second worst offense, yet somehow Nes Ziona was able to overcome their season long offensive issues and beat Jerusalem 88-79. Averaging only 76.5 points per game, Nes Ziona found scoring from unlikely sources. Tal Dunne (17 points, 9 rebounds) and Daequan Cook who was playing after an injury during the week (21 points) led the team off of the bench. Hapoel Jerusalem struggled shooting and was unable to match their opposition on the boards. Credit to the defense of Nes Ziona, Jerome Dyson was held to 6/17 shooting and Lior Eliyahu had only 2 points on 1/7 from the field. On top of that, Jerusalem was outrebounded 44-31. The Reds must address these issues if they hope to stay on top of the rankings.

Maccabi Haifa 84-73 Nahariya
Maccabi Haifa got a much needed win versus Nahariya in a game that was neck-and-neck until a huge 4th quarter from Haifa when they pulled away. Thanks to veteran Brandon Bowman’s 25 point performance off the bench and an impressive 9 points, 8 assists, and 6 steals from starting point guard Angel Rodriguez, Haifa rallied late en route to a 84-73 victory, despite trailing by 6 heading into the final quarter. Starters Dagan Yivzori and Zach Graham also contributed with 13 and 12 points respectively. For Nahariya, the load was carried almost entirely by the starting five with only 15 points coming from the bench. The New Zealand native Corey Webster had 16 points along with 7 assists and Tyrone Nash put up a double-double of 13 points and 13 rebounds. Alex Young offered 15 points but struggled with his 3 point shooting (1-6). Ukrainian Igor Nesterenko pitched in 8 points and 9 rebounds.

Gilboa Galil 86-85 Hapoel Tel Aviv
On paper, Hapoel Tel Aviv and Gilboa Galil looked like a perfect matchup. Both sat at 9-8 with Galil owning the #4 seed and Tel Aviv taking the #5. These teams again proved how evenly matched they were in their most recent game as Galil defeated Hapoel Tel Aviv 86-85 in a fourth quarter comeback victory. A great outing from Matt Howard (16 points), Raviv Limonad (14 points, 5 rebounds, 7 assists), and Tywain Mckee (22 points, 7 assists) off of the bench was not enough for Tel Aviv to secure the victory. While D’Angelo Harrison (19 points), J’Covan Brown (17 points), and Zach Leday (22 points) led the way for Galil, in games as tight as it can come down to statistics usually overlooked by fans. In this match, free throw shooting was the difference in the game. While Tel Aviv did not shoot poorly from the charity stripe (23/29 for 79%), in a one point loss that must be in the minds of the players as one or two of those shots would mean a completely different outcome. Now halfway through the season, both of these teams hope to continue playing good basketball and maintain their position as one of the top teams in the Israeli League.