Hapoel Tel Aviv cruises past Beer Sheva

Feb 2, 2024 | Holyland Hoops

Hapoel Tel Aviv defeated Hapoel Beer Sheva 90-68 at home on Friday afternoon, making it 9 wins from 10 games in the Winner League for the season, while the Southern Reds fall to 3-10 and just one win (and one more game played) than ladder dwellers Hapoel Eilat. As so many games have started over the last couple of rounds, there was a pre-game ceremony in honor of Lior Lubin z”l, who passed away after a short battle with cancer last week. Lubin played for Hapoel Tel Aviv during the 2003-04 season and most-recently was the bench boss for Hapoel Beer Sheva for the 2022-23 season.

Jakeenan Gant got the first points on the board for both teams for Beer Sheva in a slow start for both teams, with a Dez Wells airball from 3 followed by time expiring on the shot clock fittingly characterizing Hapoel Tel Aviv’s slow start to the game. In fact, it was a slow start for both teams, with Beer Sheva leading 4-2 after four minutes of play, with inexcusable errors including a backcourt violation for Hapoel Beer Sheva and Hapoel Tel Aviv’s only points coming from free-throws to Bar Timor and Kyle Alexander. J’Covan Brown finally got Hapoel Tel Aviv’s first field goal shortly after which started a 6-0, which was stopped by a classy Elijah Pamberton to Gant alleyoop to stop the home team’s momentum. While Hapoel Tel Aviv threatened to create a larger buffer, but a 3-pointer to Egor Koulechiv to the end of the first quarter helped to keep the lead in single digits, with the home team leading 18-11 after 10 minutes.

Jaylen Hoard – Photo Credit: Basket.co.il

Early points to Idan Zalmenson and Jaylen Hoard (including an and-one play) extended the lead to 29-13 two minutes into the second quarter, causing Beer Sheva bench boss Yoav Shamir to call a timeout and the home crowd to make noise as they smelled blood. Although Ron Zipper and Netta Segal tried to keep the visitors in touch with their outside shooting, but it was Hapoel Tel Aviv’s quarter, with 10 points to Tomer Ginat, 8 points to Zalmenson and 7 points to Hoard for the second quarter alone, as well as a late 3-pointer for birthday boy Eyal Harel, giving them a 50-29 lead at halftime, making it a very difficult task for Beer Sheva in the second half.

Beer Sheva off got to a positive start in the second half, with two 3-pointers inside the first two minutes for Grant Sherfield and one for Koulechov to bring the deficit back to 15 points at 54-39. But Hapoel Tel Aviv again went on a 7-0 run, including back-to-back baskets to Hoard, with Shamir calling another timeout to try to get his team back on track as the lead stretched out to 22 points at 61-39 midway through the third term. Although Beer Sheva didn’t completely drop off, Hapoel Tel Aviv extended their lead for the period, courtesy of 7 points for the term to Wells, taking a 72-46 lead into the last 10 minutes of regulation.

Idan Zalmanson – Photo Credit: Basket.co.il

Beer Sheva didn’t just roll over in the last quarter, with 3-pointers to Zipper and Segal helping to reduce the deficit to 23 points when Hapoel Tel Aviv coach Danny Franco called a timeout three minutes into the term leading 78-55. Gant scored his first points since the first quarter followed by 2/2 from the penalty line for Zipper and the lead was back to under 20 points halfway with five minutes left in the game. But it did not get much closer than that, with later 3-pointers to Harel and Yonatan Rabinowitz off the bench at the end giving the home team a 22-point win.

Hoard (24 points, 6 rebounds and 3 steals), Zalmanson (13 points, 3 assists and 2 blocks) and Ginat (12 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists and 3 steals) were in double figures for the victors, while Sherfield (15 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists and 1 steal), Zipper (14 points, 2 rebounds, 1 assist and 2 steals) and Koulechov (10 points and 4 rebounds) led the way for the visitors.

“We came to the game to play with good intensity and we wanted to continue the momentum defensively from our previous games,” Franco said after the game. “We did it well from the start – even if we were a little slow offensively at the start – but our defense helped us start our run. We have a lot of depth. When we come to games like this, it makes life easier for me. It gives opportunities to the younger players to play and opportunities for other players to rest with our busy schedule.

Danny Franco – Photo Credit: Yehuda Halickman

“As a team, we have depth,” Franco continued. Like I said, we came prepared for the game as we expect to come prepared for the next game, as we did the previous game. It helps everyone feel like part of the team. We have a very busy schedule. Each game that we win like this is good for us and I hope that we can continue like this.”

With players coming back from injury, Franco said that the team is still concerned about making sure that those players continue to remain available and are not giving too many minutes.

“My only headache is that we don’t know what players can give. With players not with us completely while they’re injured, they lost their match fitness. The purpose today was not to go over 20 minutes also for J’Covan [Brown, who played 4 minutes] or for Jaylen [Hoard, who ended up playing 24 minutes] who is returning after a large tear. He [Hoard] was dominant today and we need to make sure not to give him too much of a workload that the tear returns. Everyone has something right now[injury-wise], we have a tough period of games now in which we don’t know what players will be able to give. X [Xavier Munford] rested today, Brian [Angola] still isn’t healthy but he may be able to play on Sunday. John [Holland] isn’t fit. I hope that my headache will be that everyone is healthy, but right now that’s my focus.”

Yoav Shamir – Photo Credit: Yehuda Halickman

“Their intensity and form won the game,” Shamir said after the game. “For the first four minutes we did what we wanted to do, but then we couldn’t stop them. It’s hard to win a game with our 21 turnovers – which we had reduced in our recent games, which were closer. Hapoel Tel Aviv shot nearly 60% from 2-point range and they got points under the basket without us bothering them. We can’t win that way.”

Hapoel Tel Aviv’s next game is away against Hapoel Haifa on Monday night (18:55 IST / 11:55 EST), while Beer Sheva host Maccabi Ramat Gan on Tuesday night (19:20 IST / 12:20 EST).

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