Hapoel Holon downed Cholet 89-71 to punch their ticket to the Champions League Playoff Round as they finished in first place in Group C. Stefanos Dedas’s squad went to Maxim De Zeeuw early as the Belgian big man worked both the inside and outside while CJ Harris, Tyrus McGee and Isaiah Miles shot lights out in the 3rd quarter hitting 7 triples to run away with the win.
De Zeeuw led Holon with 21 points, CJ Harris added 16 points and 7 assists, Tyrus McGee scored 15 points, Isaiah Miles chipped in with 14 points and Willy Workman had a stellar 10 points and 8 rebounds in the win. Gerry Blakes was Cholet’s high scorer with 22 points and Yoan Makoundou added 20 points in the loss.
Hapoel Holon grabbed an early 20-17 lead as Maxim De Zeeuw scored 8 points to go along with strong efforts by CJ Harris and Wily Workman while Michael Stockton and Aaron Jones countered for Cholet in an entertaining opening first quarter.
Gerry Blakes got to work from downtown for the hosts with a pair of triples but Tyrus McGee, Chris Johnson and De Zeeuw answered for Stefanos Dedas’s squad as Holon stayed in front 31-29 midway through the second quarter. McGee added a 3-point play and De Zeeuw scored two baskets in the paint as Yoan Makoundou tried to keep the game close for the French team but Holon took a 41-33 lead into halftime.
Isaiah Miles began the third quarter with two from long distance but Blakes matched him and bumped up his game points total to 20, but Holon held the advantage 55-45 with five minutes to go in the period. McGee and Harris scored for the visitors, Makoundou found more points inside for Cholet but Harris drilled a pair of triples to give the visitors seven 3-pointers in the frame as they went into the last quarter with a 70-55 advantage.
Workman got the fourth quarter started off with a bucket, De Zeeuw went in for a monster dunk and Guy Pnini went form beyond the arc to stay up 79-64 midway through the frame. De Zeeuw continued the dunk party inside, Chris Johnson added a jumper and McGee added free throws to wrap up the 18 point win.
Head Coach Stefanos Dedas deserves a boatload of credit for the job he has done with Hapoel Holon so far this season. Finals of the WINNER Cup, 2nd round of the Balkan League, Final Four of the Israel State Cup and now finally after four long years Holon has moved onto the sound round, the Round of 16 of Play-off Round of the Champions League. Last season they were oh so close to qualifying, in fact within a second of moving on as Marcus Foster committed an unforgettable foul with just a send left on the clock. This time however, Holon grabbed their second chance and made sure to play the basketball that they have been playing all campaign long to finish the job. With terrific outside shooting by CJ Harris, Tyrus McGee and Isaiah Miles, plus the terrific slashing and inside work by Willy Workman to go along with Maxim De Zeeuw just fantastic all around play, Dedas has found the perfect mix to play not only upbeat positive hoops but to find a way to keep everyone happy. And that’s no small task.
Backs Against The Wall
After Holon began their Champions League campaign with a 1-2 start, they knew that they would have to turn it up a notch in order to advance to the next round and that’s what they did. A road win at Tsmoki Minsk, a massive home victory against AEK that gave them the tiebreaker after falling in Athens by 4 points and winning by 6 in Israel and then a blowout to take first place in the group with a 4-2 record is quite amazing, especially in a very short regular season. “This was a historical win and after four years Holon qualified for the Top 16 for the first time which was a target. We started the second round of games with our backs against the wall, to win at Minsk and against AEK to stay alive and we needed to win today. We showed character. I am very happy and excited and we showed that we deserved to win.” The next round will be tough with a number of top level teams which Holon could be drawn against including Tenerife Sassari, Tofas, Nymburk, Zaragoza, Novgorod, Turk and Burgos just to name a few. But with a quality squad that Holon has put together plus with the addition of the injured players Rich Howell and Yogev Ohayon, Dedas will have some depth in order to compete.
Isaiah Miles said it after the game, “It was a really good game on both sides and both teams played really hard. We earned this and we deserved this. We played the right way and had fun sharing the ball. Hats off to coach who had us prepared and we locked in and moved onto the next round.” Playing the right way and having fun. That is what Holon has been able to do all season long and they have really been able to play that way once they bought in Maxim De Zeeuw in order to provide more balance to their attack and not just be a 3-point threat team. Not to say they gave up on the triple, that was clearly not the plan, hence nailing seven of their chances in the 3rd quarter alone, but with an inside threat plus a slasher in Workman, Holon is able to operate in many, many ways. “I have to commend my teammates for finding me,” continued Miles who knocked down four from deep. “I didn’t score in the first half but the shooting effort created the gap in the 3rd quarter to help us win it.”
Hapoel Gilboa Galil dropped Maccabi Rishon Le’Zion 85-78 to punch their ticket to the next stage of the Balkan League as they will join Hapoel Holon as the Israeli representatives in the competition. The Galilee team took the lead early in the first quarter and never looked back as they gave new head coach Avishay Gordon his first win behind the bench.
Big men Kerry Backshear with 20 points and 8 rebounds along Jehyve Floyd who scored 20 points and 8 rebounds dominated the inside while Iftach Ziv and Yotam Hanochi each added 11 points in the win. Isaiah Taylor led Rishon with 17 points, Trey Lewis scored 13 points and Noam Avivi chipped in with 12 points in the loss.