The Israel Basketball League Finals get underway on Monday night as Hapoel Holon and Beni Herzliya will tip off for the 2021/22 season championship. Ahead of the best of 3 game series, both the coaches and captains of the two squads spoke about the opportunity in front of them at the annual league award ceremony as Holon looks to win their first championship in over a decade while Herzliya will be playing in their first ever title matchup.
However, before the primary participants addressed the assembled media, chairman of the Israel Basketball League Shmuel Frankel opened the event as he spoke about some of the accomplishments that the League administration had reached including changing the finals from a knockout Final Four to a best of three game series.
“We had a very pressure packed season and we finally made it to the final. Nine years ago when I arrived at the league administration we were the only league that didn’t have a series for the finals and I wanted to do just that. This is the first time in 29 years that Maccabi Tel Aviv or Hapoel Jerusalem are not in the final and I’m very satisfied with that.”
As for the action on the court, Herzliya coach Oren Aharoni spoke about having a chance to compete for the championship.
“This is the first time for us to be here in the championship series,” Aharoni said. “We were able to defeat Maccabi Tel Aviv without having home court advantage. We’re very proud of the journey that we have taken and we will do the best that we can.”
Guy Goodes, Holon’s bench boss who just saw Hapoel Jerusalem was content having gotten to the title game, “We’re very happy to be playing in the final and it’s not to be taken for granted that we beat a really talented team like Jerusalem. We came into that game and really were able to record a big win with our fans.”
“We worked hard all season to get to this point,” Holon captain Guy Pnini said. “We played Herzliya a number of times this season, some games we won, some we lost. We will do the best that we can.”
Herzliya captain Yair Kravitz is also looking forward to the finals, “We’re very excited to be here and we will work hard as we have big dreams. Holon have some great players but Oren will prepare for us for them properly.”
There will be a number of interesting things to pay attention to throughout the series including the fact that both teams have very contrasting styles of play with Herzliya featuring the league’s player of the season in Chinanu Onuaku inside while Holon uses their strength from the outside to their advantage.
“The styles of the two teams is totally different,” Goodes commented. “And it’s not just a one game final which is perhaps a bit easier as you can come in and win a game and take the championship. In a series, you have to be the better team over the course of a number of games. Again this will be a very big conflict of styles and we can’t play like them and they can’t play like us.”
Aharoni also discussed how the two clubs are veery different in the way that they play, “There were two games that were one sided for them and two that were one sided for us. We will have to adapt to their style and they will have to adapt to us as well. This will be a battle of two totally different styles.”
Both coaches say that home court advantage may not be a big deal in this series which could certainly be the case, “You saw that in the Boston and Miami series home court didn’t make that much of a difference and the players will have to deal with the pressure either way,” Goodes said.
“All four teams are very even and you can see that there wasn’t such a big deal for the home court advantage,” Aharoni commented, but then noted one area that Holon did have a bit of leverage, “Holon has experience in these types of situations as they have also played in Europe and we don’t, so there is no question that it gives them something extra. Our goal is to play in Europe going forward.”
The League administration announced that the finalists each have a guaranteed place in the Basketball Champions League group stages should they want to accept.