Ariel makes statement in Hapoel Tel Aviv win but can his showing earn him more playing time?

Dec 27, 2022 | Holyland Hoops

It always seems to happen. It’s the dreaded moment of any team and their fans. It’s the last thing that you want to see happen when you go to any type of sporting event.

Yes, it’s when a player comes back to haunt his former team and it’s even worse when the player is one that was homegrown.

That was the case this week when Adam Ariel came back home to set the tone in a lethal first quarter for Hapoel Tel Aviv in a 80-77 win over Hapoel Jerusalem.

Adam Ariel – Photo Credit:

Ariel, who had not earned major minutes to say the least this season under Reds head coach Danny Franco, was thrust into the starting lineup which was certainly a surprise to all in attendance at the Jerusalem Arena considering that the guard had only played in 5 games for a total of 67 minutes in the Israeli league. But no matter, Ariel rewarded his bench boss with 11 first quarter points which included a pair of triples to propel the visitors to a 28-16 lead.

There had been rumors and talk around the Israeli basketball world that Ariel wanted out of Hapoel Tel Aviv due to the fact that he was just not playing which is certainly frustrating for any basketball player. However, Franco was able to settle things down so much so that he started Ariel in a big game in Jerusalem after not having given him any minutes last week in EuroCup action in Greece which was odd in itself considering he scored 17 points the week before against Slask including going 5/8 from 3-point land.

Ariel grabbed the opportunity with both hands out of the gate to make sure that he would have the last laugh after Jerusalem did not look to bring him back to the squad for the 22/23 campaign. While Ariel didn’t have much of an effect on the balance of the game playing only sparingly and not scoring over the final three frames, he no doubt made his mark.

Danny Franco – Photo Credit: Yehuda Halickman

“I didn’t make a decision who would play or who wouldn’t when we were in Greece,” Franco said about Ariel not playing against Promitheas Patras. The players who were playing did well and I just went with them. Every Israeli on our team could start for any other team, but we are not just any other team. We want to get to certain places and everyone will have to pay a price. We didn’t force anyone to be here. Adam’s contribution is no surprise and I was not either. This game was Adam’s chance and a different game may be Gil (Beni’s).”

Hapoel Tel Aviv in some ways has an embarrassment of riches with a deep roster, especially on the Israeli side with top Sabras including Bar Timor, Idan Zalmanson, Gil Beni and Tomer Ginat which also creates somewhat of a traffic jam for players to get minutes, but as Franco said this is what it is right now at Hapoel Tel Aviv.

Ginat for one knows what Ariel can do but also understands that the squad has plenty of solid players and weapons who could make the difference in any given game.

“Adam is perhaps the best shooter in the country. He came into this game after not having played in Greece and scored 11 points in 5 minutes. He can influence a game and we have many player who can do that as well.”

Tomer Ginat – Photo Credit: Yehuda Halickman

For Jerusalem, the first quarter was an absolute disaster zone any which way you want to slice it. The fact that they were able to comeback and even get to within a legitimate chance of winning the game was in itself a late Chanukah miracle. But at the end of the day, coach Aleksander Dzikic knows that a game is 40 minutes and not 30 as well as how Ariel can make an impact.

“We played well for three quarters, the problem is the game is four quarters and the way we played I’m not happy about it. I don’t know what happened. We let a team play and give them space and flow in offense and open shots, after that it was a different game.”

As for Adam Ariel’s game, the capital city bench boss was shall we say, straight up and honest, “I’m not surprised and he’s a shooting specialist. Whoever doesn’t know that should go home, everyone knows what he does for a living.”

Siim Sander-Vene – Photo Credit: Yehuda Halickman

Siim Sander-Vene who is also a marksman for Hapoel Jerusalem spoke very bluntly about his club’s opening frame and couldn’t have been any more concise, “The first quarter was a disaster and they had the flow which cost us the first half.”

Ariel made that much of a difference in such a short period of time which usually happens in his case at the end of games as Jerusalem fans recall back in the 2020 playoffs when his 3-pointer from the corner beat the Reds at the buzzer when he was with Maccabi Rishon Le’Zion.

Roughly an hour after the final buzzer, Ariel was standing at the foot of the bus about to board for the trip back to Tel Aviv. He looked neither here nor there without a smile, expressionless, stone cold as an assassin ready to make the lethal kill as he has done so many times on the basketball court. On one hand, Ariel should have been as happy as a lark for being one of the main reasons that his team won the game, one that as Ginat said was important but came up just short saying that it was a statement win.

For Ariel it was certainly a statement that he made to all; that he has plenty of bullets left to make a difference and is ready to play and most importantly wants to play.

The question is how many opportunities will he have to do so this season.

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