Dynamic Duos: Blatt & Thomas, Avivi & Dovrat, Dunne & Limonad. Plus Zizic Dominant, Beer Sheva Blowout, What’s Up Hapoel TLV & Holon faces Cholet in BCL Action: Wrapping up the latest Israel Basketball Action!

At Hapoel Jerusalem it’s great to watch Tamir Blatt and Tashawn Thomas play. What a dynamite combination! It doesn’t get better than the monster alleyoop they teamed up for in the fourth quarter. The pair have been playing for many years together beginning in Holon a number of seasons ago and are very used to playing off each other, it’s as if one knows where the other is even if they would have been blindfolded. For Jerusalem this will be critical going forward with a number of injuries especially in Europe when they play in the Champions League. Blatt spoke about their relationship on the court, “This is my fourth season, just like 4 years in college, playing with Tashawn Thomas and I love playing with him, we have great chemistry together.” For more on the game CLICK HERE for the 3-Pointers and full analysis.

Noam Dovrat – Photo Credit: Oded Carni

Over at Rishon Le’Zion, another dynamic duo were the “Brothers Noam”, Noam Dovrat and Noam Avivi who absolutely lit up the scoreboard as Avivi notched has career high with 16 points gong 6/7 from the floor and was a, get this a whopping +29! As for Dovrat how about 14 points, 6 assists? Not bad at all for the 18-year old Dovrat and the 21-year old Avivi. It was great to see Avivi knocking his shots down from outside and inside while Dovrat is looking more and more like a budding superstar. Trey Lewis was certainly impressed, “It’s easy to play with our young players when Noam plays like he is 25.” Guy Goodes also spoke about Dovrat and expects even more from him, “He can even do more and we spoke about it this past week. Darryl started yelling at him to be more and more aggressive and that’s what we want to see. When Noam joined the army is took him out of balance a bit but I believe that we will get a lot out of him this season.” As for Avivi, Goodes was also very pleased with his performance, “He was great and gave some very good minutes, I’m really happy for him.” For more on the game CLICK HERE for the 3-Pointers and full analysis.

How about Hapoel Beer Sheva? Who ever thought they were going to win their opener by 41(!) points? I don’t think anyone in the world could have predicted that. Sure Maccabi Haifa have issues and they almost lost in the State Cup to a second division team, but there was no indication that Rami Hadar, on his birthday nonetheless was going to celebrate in such fashion. Caleb Agada is just all over the court and scored 28 points, grabbed 10 rebounds, dished out 8 assists and ends the game with a 39 efficiency rating, Eric Griffin can damage any team in this league while Travis Warech with 20 points, shooting 6/7 from long distance and proved to be unstoppable. WOW! The Sports Rabbi caught up with the naturalized Israeli as he was on his way back to the southern capital from the beautiful Carmel Mountain, “It’s nice to win and it’s nice to score seeing the ball continuously go in. We got a lot of points in transition and it was just a great team performance. We obviously wanted or win for us as a team and it was a statement victory for Rami on his special day.” Warech also complimented Agada who has been a real eye opener since landing in Israel at the end of last season, “Caleb is in the gym an hour and a half before practice. He’s an absolute workhorse. I have a lot of respect for him.”

Ante Zizic is beginning to really come into his own and that is bad news for the rest of the league’s big men. Zizic is an incredible force in the paint for Maccabi Tel Aviv and is really head and shoulders above the league’s other centers. In fact, it’s not even close. The more confidence the Croatian can gain in Israel will definitely help the Yellow & Blue in the Euroleague as well. After scoring 24 points and grabbing nine rebounds, Zizic spoke about his first performance in the domestic league: “I’m proud of the guys and the way we started the Israeli league after missing some vital players. The chemistry with my teammates is growing, and they are finding me better and against Eilat I got some easy points. It was my day.” Coach Ioannis Sfairopoulos complimented his center, “For our league, he’s very important because he has the quality to play inside the paint and it’s tough to stop him, but the same could be said about him in the EuroLeague competition. He’s picking it up, he’s doing a really great job, improving in comparison to the first games a month ago. As long as we will play him, he will be better and better.”

Yam Madar & Bar Timor – Photo Credit: Dov Halickman Photography

I hate to say it but it was no surprise that Hapoel Gilboa Galil easily defeated Hapoel Tel Aviv up in the Galilee. Lior Lubin’s squad has looked like a well oiled machine throughout the Balkan League, State Cup and every time that I have been able to see them play. However, the same can’t be said about Hapoel Tel Aviv who still look like they haven’t gotten out of first gear. There just seems to be a problem with the mixture of players on the team and with the Yam Madar NBA Draft issue hanging over everyone’s heads. As an example, Walter Lemon hasn’t looked like the floor general the Reds thought they were getting and Joaquin Szuchman while defensively is terrific doesn’t contribute an iota onto offensive side of the ball and Ioannis Kastritis can’t afford a player who can’t score. Injuries to Jon Diebler and Talit Zanna have also slowed the squad down as well. “This isn’t the way we wanted to start the season,” said Kastritis. “This was a very bad result and the differences in level was stark, but it’s how we came into the game which is the biggest issue. We have character problems and difficulties in mentality which isn’t the easiest to solve. We know what we have to do to come to the game on Thursday better and I hope that will be the case at the next practice.” This is definitely not what Hapoel fans wanted to hear.

Tal Dunne – Photo Credit: Dov Halickman Photography

Brad Greenberg finally got to see some of the best minutes his team has played so far this young campaign when Nes Ziona came up with an impressive 28-11 final quarter to snatch the win away from Bnei Herzliya. Patrick Miller was terrific, but credit for the win also goes to the determination of a pair of longtime Israeli basketball stalwarts, Tal Dunne and Raviv Limonad. It’s not easy to teach old dogs new tricks especially with a new coach after having worked with Nadav Zilberstein for a number of years. Sure they may have their way and they style of paying ball, but the bottom line is they want to win and that showed in the fourth quarter as they hammered away at Herzliya at both ends of the court. As Greenberg said following the game, “We had some veterans on the court that were determined to win the game. I got to give a lot of credit to Tal and Raviv and Patrick Miller until he fouled out who was physical and determined also to Lior Carrera on defense.” For more on the game CLICK HERE for the 3-Pointers and full analysis.

Champions League

Finally, Hapoel Holon faces Cholet Tuesday at 21:00 in Basketball Champions League action. Both teams enter the tip with identical 0-1 records. Vafaessa Fofana won’t be available for Cholet due to testing positive for COVID-19 while Yogev Ohayon and Oded Brandwein are out injured for Holon Head Coach Stefanos Dedas’s squad. “This is a very important game for us for a number of reasons,” said Dedas. “This is our first home game and is key for our Champions League campaign. It’s a chance to see change in our club after last game. We are very motivated and have the desire to win this game and we will do it.”

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