Kiryat Ata stunned Hapoel Tel Aviv 91-87 as James Batemon proved to be unstoppable for the visitors in the shocking win. Sharon Avrahami’s team came had a rough start as Danny Franco’s squad grabbed an early lead thanks to Bar Timor and Xavier Munford, but Batemon, Amin Stevens and Raz Adam were able to pull even at halftime. Guy Palatin locked down on defense in the second half while Stevens and Batemon continued to find the clutch baskets to take the thrilling victory.
Batemon led all scorers with 22 points, Stevens added 17 points, Adam chipped in with 13 points while Palatin scored 12 points and 5 steals in the win. Timor scored 21 points and Munford added 18 points in the loss.
“This was a huge win for us,” Kiryat Ata coach Sharon Avrahami began. “We came into this game to a packed arena in a terrific atmosphere and this is the best feeling to be able to come into such a battle and come away with a win. We wanted to make sure they wouldn’t be able to run and we really worked hard on that to make sure they wouldn’t be able to do so at any price. We didn’t begin well in that regard but we were able to really do a great job the rest of the way to notch the win.”
“We are going through a rough period,” Hapoel coach Danny Franco began. “After this game we can come up with 1,001 reasons why we didn’t win but we didn’t have a good game on either side of the court. Perhaps it was natural that this was going to be the case with two new players. Kiryat Ata deserve some praise for their efforts.”
The game’s MVP James Batemon looked back at the victory, “Not one of the best games in my career but one of the best wins in my career in such a great environment. It feels good to play here and reminded me of college when I played in gyms that were packed like this one. It was a nostalgic moment so this win is definitely up there.”
Hapoel captain Bar Timor reflected on the game, “I’m not sure how to explain what went on in this game, but we shouldn’t look like the way we did. It may have been because of exhaustion but it’s still no excuse. The trips we have had to take for EuroCup aren’t easy, some of the guys are ill and the schedule isn’t easy. We are all together but it’s not simple.”
Xavier Munford and newcomer Will Cummings scored early for Hapoel Tel Aviv while Amin Stevens and Tomer Porath answered for Kiryat Ata, but points from Bar Timor and Munford from downtown gave the Reds a 28-20 lead after ten minutes of play. James Batemon and Ben Saraf began to chip away at the lead, Dez Wells started to score for the hosts, but Raz Adam scored in bunches to tie the game up at halftime 46-46.
Batemon and Stevens put the visitors in front as Guy Palatin added points, Ben Saraf went from deep, Akia Pruitt dunked and Batemon drained a triple to end the third quarter with a 71-64 lead. Batemon, Palatin and Porath scored while Stevens added a deuce, Idan Zalmanson, Will Cummings and Kyle Alexander came back with points, Timor cut the lead to 3-points but Batemon drilled home the dagger 3-pointer to shock Hapoel Tel Aviv.