Brown tabbed as Round 11 MVP leads Hapoel Tel Aviv to big win that saw McRae, Tokoto contribute ahead of Derby

Jan 19, 2023 | Holyland Hoops

“Balagan” – That’s how Paris Basket coach Will Weaver began his opening statements following his team’s 95-79 loss to Hapoel Tel Aviv. In fact the American’s choice of Hebrew words to start his postgame press conference could not have been any truer especially when he looked back to the 35-18 second quarter that put away the game for Danny Franco’s squad in fine fashion.

After an even first frame that ended 20-20, the Reds blitzed the French club in every which way as J’Covan Brown who picked up MVP honors for Round 11 ran the offense to a science while JP Tokoto was hitting his midrange which had been something that the forward had been having trouble with all season long. Jordan McRae also came through with all kinds of baskets as he was doing anything and everything including a “Jordan-esque” bucket to pull away for good.

Sure, on paper the third and fourth quarters were a point to the good for Paris and even respectively, but by the then the game was long salted away with really no chance for Weaver’s charges to make it close.

“Their coach kicked my ass and their players kicked our ass. We have to take the lessons out of this game about our approach and spirt,” Weaver said.

Hapoel Tel Aviv coach Danny Franco was very content as to how his players responded after a huge blowout loss to Hapoel Jerusalem in Israel State Cup play, “Happy my guys reacted well after a tough loss. I think the game was more of a mental game. We have had some ups and downs lately. I’m happy everyone was accountable and stayed close. I hope we can build up from this game, we moved the ball well and shared the ball well. We are near the top in assists, the tempo was our game and I’m happy we were able to go back to playing Hapoel Tel Aviv basketball.”

Jordan McRae – Photo Credit: Yehuda Halickman

Jordan McRae who scored 17 points, also looked at how the team responded after the tough home loss this past Sunday, “It was an all-around game. Good team win to bounce. We played good as a team. We are pros so we try to limit blow out losses. We didn’t want to lose so early in the cup.”

While five Reds scored in double digits and had two more within striking distance, it was just what the doctor ordered for Hapoel and their star guard J’Covan Brown who was absolutely stellar in the encounter. With 17 points, 16 assists which was one off the EuroCup record and 8 rebounds he ended the game just two boards short of recording a triple double., but also played close to 34 minutes which is plenty for Brown who will have Maccabi waiting on Sunday night.

“I’ll get a triple one of these days,” Brown said after the game. “It is actually harder to get [the record] when everybody’s in your ear telling you to do it. But, if they wouldn’t have told me, just let me keep play, I would’ve got it.”

J’Covan Brown – Photo Credit: Yehuda Halickman

Franco spoke about keeping Brown on the floor for quite some time, “He wanted to get those two rebounds and that’s why he stayed plus I enjoyed seeing him on the court.”

Weaver who know Brown from his Texas days also spoke about what the guard brings to the table, “It’s not like I don’t know he’s good as I recruited him to Texas. I’m happy as to what he has done in Israel and he is a really good player. He controls the game very well and he has his teams winning. I’m happy not to have to face him again until hopefully the playoffs.”

JP Tokoto who himself had quite a game also chimed in about what Brown brings to the table, “Been playing with JB for 2 years. This is normal. He’s been that guy everywhere he has played. He is huge for us.”

JP Tokoto – Photo Credit: Yehuda Halickman

Speaking of Tokoto, there is no question that he has struggled this season and he is the first one to admit that right off of the bat, “Back to normal, this is how I should be playing. I’ve always been a main guy and this year it’s a little different. It’s all good. Seeing shots going down is definitely a relief but there are more things I can do to help the team.”

With Hapoel’s continental record up to 7-4 they will now turn their sights onto the Derby which will tip-off on Sunday night at the Drive In. The fans were in fine form already as they were going through their typical repertoire of songs dedicated to Maccabi Tel Aviv and with the Reds 0-2 against the Yellow & Blue with defeats in Hadera and Yad Eliyahu, they know full well that this will be the best chance to down their arch rivals.

One of Hapoel head coach Danny Franco’s challenges has been trying to satisfy the players with their roles and positon on the club and with a Derby coming up everyone will want to be a part of it but according to Tokoto, he feels that the bench boss has been doing a good job in meeting everyone’s expectations.

“Danny is doing a very good job so far. We got 12 guys who can come in and contribute. I think he has been great so far not just in handling personalities as well. But at the end of the day we all have the same goal in mind.”

Danny Franco – Photo Credit: Yehuda Halickman

Franco himself understands that everyone will need to take a step back, refocus and get ready for Sunday but that neither side will really be able to surprise the other.

“We have to take a break ahead of the Maccabi game and we need to stay focused because in this game we lost focus when we started doing behind the back passes and alleyoops. I don’t think that either team can surprise the other maybe there will be one thing here or there.”

“Jerusalem was crazy but versus Maccabi will be ten times that. Me and Lorenzo work out in the summer together so I’m looking forward to it and to be part of the Hapoel – Maccabi rivalry,” McRae concluded.

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