Herzilya shock and awe offense hits Holon hard early and often to send them to State Cup Final

Feb 14, 2022 | Holyland Hoops

Bnei Herzliya is just one win away from taking home the Israel State Cup, a trophy that they last put their name on back in 1995. Ironically in that final they defeated Hapoel Holon, the same Holon that they disposed of handily in the semifinal to find their way to the championship game.

Oren Aharoni’s squad put the smackdown on Guy Goodes’s team early and often as Chinanu Onuaku’s shock and awe offense hit Holon hard right from the get go as the big man scored his club’s first 9 points to set the tone and stun the opposition.

Onuaku found points every which way in a dominant first quarter and before Holon knew it they were down 26-13 and shell-shocked as to what they had endured over the opening ten minutes. From there it was all Herzliya shooting an incredible 58% from beyond the arc with a variety of players going from deep to increase the lead to over twenty points and never really have to look back.

Chinanu Onuaku – Photo Credit: IBBA

While Onuaku had set the stage very nicely, it was also Quinton Hooker, Shawn Dawson, Sandy Cohen and Maurice Kemp who provided the bulk of the scoring while the usual suspects Chris Babb, Andy Van Vliet and Yair Kravitz took care of the leftovers in a one sided blowout that very few people saw in the making.

“We have a lot of tools and our players like to pass which is the biggest advantage we have as a team,” Aharoni said following the game as he spoke about the all out attack his team provided its fans. “But the defense we had also helped us win this game. The guys did a great job to get Holon out of their rhythm, we did an amazing job on that side of the ball and we controlled the pace of play the entire game.”

Whether it was Onuaku scoring from the line, in the paint, by dunk or from the outside or whether it was Cohen who had his shooting shoes on or Hooker who dictated the offense or Dawson who scored every which way, Aharoni had plenty to go to in his toolbox on this night.

“We played our game and we have a lot of tools to do so,” Dawson explained. “We are where we are not because of a fluke but we are there deservingly.”

Shawn Dawson – Photo Credit: IBBA

Herzliya is not only heading to the Cup final but they are also in first place in league play, something that was perhaps just a dream this past summer when the club barely survived a relegation battle that could have seen the team drop into the second division.

But after the club brought in Zufer Avdija to build the roster from scratch and made the decision to go with five foreigners instead of the traditional 4 that most of the teams that don’t compete in Europe go with, Herzliya is primed to make noise and take home the Cup no matter who they play on Thursday.

“Having five imports adds a lot for us,” Dawson said. “But we also have some great Israelis too, and the five imports all can contribute as you’ve seen.”

For Holon, nothing seemed to work. Nada, zip, nothing, zero as they missed shot after shot and their confidence itself was shot by the time they knew what had happened to them. Their fans went wild and stood right on top of the bench making for an even more uncomfortable State Cup experience.

Guy Goodes – Photo Credit: Champions League

For coach Guy Goodes nothing went his way, “I can’t give an explanation as they scored easy baskets and always found the open man. Every time we missed our open shots our confidence dropped. There are days like this in basketball when nothing goes right. This was Herzliya’s game and we have to respect that.”

Goodes had guided his club to three straight knockout game wins between the Champions League and State Cup prior to the debacle against Herzliya. He doesn’t have to answer to anyone as to the way he pulled the team together and brought them to the Final Four as well as to the Champions League Round of 16 Group Stage.

But perhaps having made a number of wholesale changes with various roster moves hurt the club right now in the short term as well as having 7 foreigners available to play and only 5 can be dressed in Israeli competition.

Rafi Menco – Photo Credit: BCL

While Goodes dismissed that as being a reason for some of the issues, Rafi Menco alluded to the fact that this may have well been a problem while scoring in general has been down for the club across the board.

“We have always been in these situations and our job is to get new players into the swing of things as fast as possible. But you could see today that we aren’t playing at 100% and we have to work on that. As for the offense, I can’t put my finger on it and there is a problem. We have to keep our opponents at a low score and today things didn’t go our way,” Menco said.

Herzliya will now wait and see who they will tip off against on Thursday night as the Tel Aviv Derby winner on Monday will be their opponents. Will it be Maccabi or Hapoel? Either way, Dawson knows that whoever they will face his team will be raring to go, “Being in this spot is a lot of fun and it’s what every player wants to do and have an opportunity to win a title. That is why we play.”

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