Efiyani makes mark, Maccabi’s Agmon, Ragland, Hickey, Hooker all star – Israel Basketball Wrapup

Dec 27, 2022 | Holyland Hoops


Well it was fun to watch Hapoel Beer Sheva. Finally to say the least. David Efiyani put on a show and for anyone that enjoys seeing scoring, scoring and more scoring, that is what he did by dropping 33 points on Nes Ziona in a 97-92 win down south. Efiyani went from deep, drove to the basket, hit midrange jumpers and played an all-around terrific game for Lior Lubin’s team which now sits at 5-6 which was also good enough to punch their ticket to the quarterfinals of the Israel State Cup.

There were many who thought that this team was falling apart at the seams just a few weeks ago after a brutal loss to Hapoel Tel Aviv as well as to Maccabi Tel Aviv just before that. It’s clear that Greg Whittington has been a real force and a game changer for Beer Sheva and provides a variety of looks whether it’s clogging up the paint, being a rim protector as well as being able to take the ball and put it home as well.

But Efiyani may be the real key to the club’s success going forward. There are some games that he’s just so on and a real threat each and every possession and there are also some where he’s just nowhere to be found and if Beer Sheva really want to be a player in this league he’s got to be consistent each and every game. Efiyani may be averaging 14.6 points, 3.5 assists and 2.6 rebounds per game, but when one looks at each game one at a time you’ll find point totals of 16, 9, 19, 4, 20, 16, 11, 8, 8, 16, 33. The guard has got to be able to hit double digits every game if Beer Sheva is to win a game otherwise they are going to have a very tough time.
 
“He has found his spot,” Lubin said about Efiyani. “I believe in him and he has been good. He has been improving and he is having a good run.”
 
Efiyani spoke about the club’s most recent win and what the key to their success has been of late, “We are playing with intensity, playing together and taking care of the ball. But the key is really togetherness. We share the ball and this is what happens.”

Adam Ariel – Photo Credit: Basket.co.il

  
Hapoel Tel Aviv surprised some by starting Adam Ariel against his former team Hapoel Jerusalem despite having played sparingly so far this season. But the move paid off in the 80-77 win as Ariel dropped 11 points in the opened frame to set the tone for his team’s win. Read all about Adam Ariel’s performance by CLICKING HERE.

Tomer Agmon – Photo Credit: Yehuda Halickman


Maccabi Tel Aviv traveled way up north this week and disposed of Hapoel Galil Elyon fairly easily 96-67 as the Yellow & Blue have now won back to back Israeli league games in the Galilee region along with taking a Euroleague victory at ALBA Berlin. One of the players in the Galil Elyon win was youngster Tomer Agmon who played six minutes near the end of the game and scored 5 points including a 3-pointer in the victory.

Following the game Agmon spoke about the chance to get some playing time and what it means to him to get the opportunity to play for a team like Maccabi Tel Aviv as an 18 year old.

“It feels great, both to get a chance to play and play as a team. I’m always ready to come off of the bench and I have been waiting for an opportunity. I am happy that I was able to score and contribute to the win. I have been learning a lot from the guys who are very experienced and that has helped me make sure that I am ready at any time.”

Hapoel Holon returned to Israel after a bitter defeat in Belgium, having fallen to Oostende and being forced to take part in the best of 3 Play In Playoff for a spot in the Round of 16 groups stages of the Basketball Champions League. Had Guy Goodes’s squad had won that game they would have been handed an automatic berth but as they say, should’ve, could’ve, would’ve but the bottom line is, they didn’t. Back in Israel, the Purples squared off against Kirayt Ata and jumped out to a 24-8 lead, but frittered it away by halftime. However, Holon was able to hang tough and record the 97-85 win.
 
One change that Goodes made was to start Joe Ragland on the bench. While the guard ended the game with 25 points, Ragland scored only 3 in the first half which led to some questions as to whether this was the right move or not. Any time you win though, it’s hard to question if such a move was the right one or not and Goodes wanted to make sure that his team chalked a “W” up any which was by the end of the game.
 
“We are going through a tough period of time,” Goodes acknowledged after the game. “Nothing has been simple and this game should give the guys some confidence going forward. These are the times when you have to win at any cost.”
 
Ragland spoke about the move he made to coming off of the bench, “The coach wanted to try a different strategy that I would lead the second unit and I am always one who will do what he wants. I’m just happy that we got the win.”

Anthony Hickey was great in Hapoel Haifa’s 94-79 win at Hapoel Eilat as the guard has slowly but surely looked to have found his scoring touch once again in the victory down south. After a loss in league play last week at Nes Ziona, Sharon Drucker’s side won in FIBA Europe Cup play and then got back on the winning track in the domestic league. The guard has been critical in the Carmel Reds success this season as he along with holdover Kadeem Allen from last season have been able to provide Drucker’s team with a solid 1-2 punch. When Hickey is playing at the top of his game, Haifa are unbeatable and that can be seen in his three lowest scoring games all of which were losses. 11 points in last week’s defeat to Nes Ziona, 6 points in a loss to Kiryat Ata and 0 at home against Hapoel Jerusalem show just how crucial Hickey is to his squad. 

Watch out for Bnei Herzliya as they defeated Hapoel Gilboa Galil 82-70 and moved up into 8th place with a chance to also punch their ticket to the Israel State Cup, a competition that they had won last season. After a miserable start to the season, Herzliya who also participated in the Basketball Champions League for the first time in franchise history have seemed to begin to pull it together.

One of the reasons and it’s a big one, is that Quinton Hooker is back and health. With the point guard in tip top shape, Oren Aharoni’s squad has a huge weapon at his disposal and one that is a difference maker who can put up close to a triple double which he did in the win over Gilboa with 12 points, 8 rebounds and 9 assists. However, one very concerning item to note is that Aharoni plays with a very, very short squad and should he lose a player to an injury, they could be in very, very big trouble as they have used almost their fill allotment of 10 imports for a season. Herzliya still has a chance to make some noise but they’ll have to be very, very careful with the roster that they have or else they could find themselves in trouble down the road.

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