Haifa’s relegated, Pargo to the rescue, Jerusalem wins & more

Maccabi Tel Aviv 98-95 Nes Ziona
Jeremy Pargo helped pull the win out of the hat for Maccabi with 20 of his 26 points in the 4th quarter to take down Nes Ziona. Down 81-69 with 6:35 left in the game the Yellow & Blue dug down deep and found a way to comeback at home to pick up the victory. Michael Roll scored 21 points while Norris Cole added 17 while Talib Zanna picked up a double-double in the defeat with 27 points and 12 rebounds.

Hapoel Gilboa/Galil 84-105 Maccabi Haifa
Despite winning on the road at Gilboa/Galil Haifa will be relegated to the Leumit League with one game remaining in the season. Oz Blayzer and Trevor Gaskins each scored 19 points while Angel Rodriguez and Brandon Bowman dropped 17 a piece in the victory. Zach LeDay (21p) and Joaquin Szuchman (20p) led the host’s in defeat.

Maccabi Ashdod 76-77 Nahariya
Nahariya pulled out the last second win on Alex Young’s (15p) game winning 3-pointer to avoid relegation and send Haifa down a league. Sek Henry scored 22 points for the host’s as they have now lost three games in a row.

Hapoel Jerusalem 81-75 Maccabi Rishon Le’Zion
Kalin Lucas and Ronald Roberts (8/8 from the field) scored 17 points a piece while Tarence Kinsey dropped 16 points and pulled down 9 rebounds in the win. Murphy Holloway recorded a double-double 18p/12r for Rishon as Drew Crawford added 17 points in the loss. Both teams had an all around poor shooting effort as the host’s went 31/73 (42.5%) and Rishon 28/69 (40.6%) in the game.

Hapoel Tel Aviv 81-76 Hapoel Eilat
Jerel McNeal (16p) and Raviv Limonad (15p) led the Reds to the win over visiting Eilat who had monster games from Jordan Loyd (24p) Amit Simhon (22p).

1) Will the players strike or not? With the deadline fast approaching for the players and league to figure out what the Israeli composition will be for the teams will be in the 2018/19 season there seems to be no headway being made by either side. The league wants to abolish the “Russian Rule” which states that at least two Israelis need to be on the court at all times and come up with a foreigner limit for each team. The players want to keep the rule intact as they feel it will take away jobs from the natives. There are other issues at stake from the foreigners being tax exempt on their salaries in essence making it cheaper to have an American player rather than an Israeli plus the naturalized citizens. The next few days will be critical as the league has said that they will cancel the season if there is no agreement by Wednesday May 23rd.

2) It’s a sad day for Maccabi Haifa fans as the team was relegated to the second division. It was just last yet that the Greens made it all the way to the Winner League finals falling to Hapoel Jerusalem in the title game. How did it happen? Poor management, poor choice of foreigners and not allowing for Coach Ofer Rahimi the ability to pick the players he wanted to go to war with. That’s a recipe for disaster. Question marks are swirling around the franchise as it’s unknown in owner Jeff Rosen will continue on next year and where does that leave players like Oz Blayzer and Willy Workman as there will be plenty of teams looking to secure their services despite the latter signing a new contract. I doubt that Haifa will be making their annual trip to the NBA next season.

3) Maccabi is the Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde of Israeli Basketball. Down by a dozen with under 7 minutes to go and looking like a rudderless ship, Jeremy Pargo the newest man in Yellow & Blue took the bull by the horns and dropped 20(!) of his 26 points in money time. But if I’m Coach Spahija I’ve got to be very, very concerned as to the effort and play from his squad. Inconsistency continues to tear its ugly head with John DiBartolomeo scoring only 2 points, Jake Cohen 5 points, Yovel Zoosman 6 points and Jonah Bolden 0 points. That’s just not going to cut it for Maccabi Tel Aviv. Anyone who puts on the uniform has to understand the commitment and responsibility that comes with it.

The Hapoel Jerusalem vs Maccabi Rishon Le’Zion game was tough to watch. Poor shooting, poor decision making and poor play littered the Arena floor as Head Coach Oded Katash said following the game. The first half defensive effort was a continuation of the loss in Nahariya but the players locked down over the second half and limited Rishon especially Avi Ben Chimol who after dishing out 7 assists during the first 20 minutes was only able to find one during the final 2 quarters of the game. Katash knows very well that without defense there will be no repeat. His team just like Maccabi is inconsistent as ever.

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