Hard work – Ashdod defeats Herzliya 74-72

Maccabi Ashdod came away with a 2-point, 74-72 win on the road against Bnei Herzliya despite playing without two of their foreigners Cameron Long and Gerald Lee. Instead Israelis Nimrod Levi (18p/9r), Gil Amitai (11p) and Adam Ariel (10p) took center stage when the team was down 46-43 midway through the third quarter as they rattled off a 12-2 run to end the frame giving Brad Greenberg’s team a 55-48 lead. However, it was Sek Henry (11p/10a/7r) who broke a 70-70 deadlock with 53 seconds to go when he hit a huge 3-pointer over Shawn Dawson (11p) to secure the win. Jeff Adrien scored 19 points and pulled down 12 rebounds while Domique Archie dropped 15 points on the loss.

1) Sek Henry is the definition of an unselfish player, period. Sure he’s put up big numbers all year long but when they needed him to lead especially with two of their most important players, Long and Lee, Henry stoped up and filled the void flirting with a triple-double. But when he needed to hit the big shot, he did exactly that, draining his only 3-pointer of the night right over the head of Shawn Dawson with 53 seconds left after having gone 0/6 from long distance. Henry spoke about the keys to the win, “Hard work. We knew it was going to be tough. We’re a team and we play as a team. We knew we could win this game; the players that didn’t play helped support us. It’s a big win for the team.” #22 also talked about hitting the winner, “Great feeling. I blame the weights. I lifted them a few days ago and I felt heavy, but I made the big one when it counted, that’s all that matters.” When asked about playing facilitator he said about his teammates that “They we’re making the shots.”

2) Herzliya may be the best place for the media to watch the game as you are literally on the floor along the baseline and located right next to the Ashdod bench. You can hear and see everything that goes on and it was really a treat to witness Coach Brad Greenberg in action. “They were beating us up off the ball,” “There were three fouls on that play,” “How was that not called a foul,” are just some of the goodies overheard. Add to that Cameron Long holding him back from going crazy at the ref late in the game or when Greenberg consulted with Long about the game it was just super fun and extremely interesting. The veteran coach didn’t stop talking all game long and definitely influenced the referees with some of their calls down the stretch, fouls that weren’t called earlier in the game in favor of Ashdod were called later in the game and the credit for that goes to Greenberg. I asked him about that after the game and his answer was not that shocking at all, “I don’t know about that. I’m just coaching. Nothing is by design I’m just emotional and fighting for our guys.” We’ll I enjoyed watching it; it was quite the show.

3) I also spoke to Brad about his game plan knowing he was going to be without a pair of foreigners as well as the keys to the win, “Team defense. They really worked hard defensively. We helped each other a lot and we needed other guys to play well.” Greenberg also complimented his players, “Gil (Amitai) made some 3’s. Ben (McCauley and Nimmy (Nimrod Levi) played well and Alex (Chuberevich) did a good job defensively on Adrien. The guys played good team ball. We wanted Henry to try not to take over the game. I said ‘let it come to you, we’ve got to get others involved’. Our defense in the first half was the key because we kept it low scoring and we controlled the tempo which I felt we needed to do because I didn’t think we could score enough points.” Well you scored just enough to take the win.

Herzliya’s 5 starters (Adrien, Dawson, Mor, Triche, Archie) scored in double digits while the bench scored a grand total of 3 points in 44 game minutes. That’s just not going to cut it. Arik Shivek’s squad knew that this game was for their taking and the just didn’t as Ashdod picked up they 6th win in a row. After an emotional victory against Jerusalem this past Sunday, Herzliya couldn’t capitalize on their situation as they continue to languish near the bottom of the standings. Ashdod on the other hand sit in 3rd place with a 15-9 record. Not bad for what you’d call a small budget team.

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