Hapoel Holon fell to Tsmoki Minsk 79-69 in Champions League action on Gameday 3. Stefanos Dedas’s club fell behind early thanks to Minsk’s big men who dominated the paint freeing up Toms Leimanis on the outside as Holon had to play catch up for most of the game eventually falling by ten.
Tyrus McGee led Holon with 20 points and Isaiah Miles added 18 points (5 3-pointers) while Leimanis notched 20 points, Klavs Cavars scored 15 points and Maxsim Salash chipped in with 13 points for Minsk.
Klavs Cavars and Maxsim Salash scored easy buckets inside using their height advantage while Andrei Rahozenka hit a triple from the outside and Kris Clyburn put down a dunk to take a 10-5 lead midway through the first quarter. Cavars once again went to the paint as did Vladimir Veremeenko while Tom Leimanis and Benjamin Dodoo hit their shots from deep as Isaiah Miles put in ten points to keep pace down 26-18 after ten minutes.
Yogev Ohayon who was making his season debut scored a layup, a hot Miles went from downtown againHarris put in points and Tyrus McGee hit a three but Cavars and Salash scored inside while Leimanis drilled a triple to quell the Holon run and stay ahead 37-27 with five minutes remaining in the second quarter. Guy Pnini put in a corner three and Ohayan found points but Cavars scored from beyond the arc and used his height in the paint to give Minsk a 47-32 advantage at halftime.
Holon came out of the break inspired as Chris Johnson and Uriel Trocki scored but stayed down by 15-points, 51-36 midway through the third quarter. McGee put down a huge slam but Leimanis kept scoring from the outside to give Minsk a 63-43 lead after thirty minutes of play.
Miles hit his fifth triple of the contest and McGee scored as well to get the fourth quarter off and running but Aliaksei Trastsinetski found points and Chris Johnson was ejected for an unsportsmanlike foul as Leimanis scored at will to send Minsk to a 79-69 victory.
1) Holon was behind the 8 ball from the tip when Chris Johnson went up against one of the Minsk big men setting the stage for a long night inside the paint at either end of the court. The visitors immediately pounded the ball inside to Cavars and Salash who combined for 28 points who were also able to send it out to the perimeter where Toms Leimanis was waiting to knock down his shot giving Holon fits as they struggled to get any stops. Leimanis spoke about his 20 point performance, “We just tried to take advantage of the situation, they have good players and we did our thing and executed on offense. We fought hard to get the win.”
2) It’s not easy to find brought spots for Holon but one of them was being able to cut the deficit from 20 points to 10 with just 2:02 left in the game. Harris, McGee, Bourdillon and Pnini worked hard over the final 122 seconds to give the club hope when they go head to the return game in Belarus as point differential could play a big role in such a short six game regular season. “It was good to cut the lead down at the end,” said Isaiah Miles. “When we play them next month we can make adjustments. We wanted to win and we hope that we will be able to do so at Minsk.” As for Minsk coach Rostislav Vergunm he was very content to take the victory no matter what the difference was on the stat sheet, “You are always happy when you win by ten points and were happy with beating Holon by that amount which we would have taken before the game. They had some injuries to key players. We are a young team and with local guys. It’s a good lesson for our players and it’s hard to expect to lead by twenty but we have to know how to close it.”
3) Coach Dedas is certainly under pressure as the losses begin to mount, but the situation is still manageable as the team fights through the injury bug and will look to get back onto the winning track on Sunday against Hapoel Jerusalem. Thankfully their State Cup game originally slated for Thursday has been moved and they can get a bit of rest and get back into the swing of things. However, Rich Howell probably won’t be able to play while Willy Workman and Oded Brandwein’s status is still unclear as they heal. Miles has had to play the center position which has been a challenge he explained, “A lot of guys are banged up and we didn’t have a full roster so I had to play the five which I haven’t done since I was 17. But I’ll do what I need to until Rich comes back.” Coach Dedas also spoke about the situation as well, “Injuries are part of the game and when some of the players have off nights what can you do. Minsk had a very good day and they made some big shots. We went from 20 points to ten points and we have three more games as anything can happen. You can cheat the opponents sometimes but you can’t cheat the sport.”