Hapoel Holon advanced to the Champions League Round of 16 Group Stage by downing Besiktas 74-68 in a do or die rubber match to break a 1-1 series tie. The purples new head coach Guy Goodes went three for three in knock out games over the past week since joining the club and ended it in style by punching a ticket to the next stage of the competition for the second straight season.
The Turkish squad came out strong and took a first quarter lead thanks to Josh Reaves and Trevon Bluiett, but Chris Johnson, Adam Smith and Steve Zack led Guy Goodes’s team back with a 14-0 run in the second quarter to head into halftime holding a 39-30 lead. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Kenan Sipahi helped Ahmet Kandemir’s crew cut the lead to just 58-52 after thirty minutes of play. As Besiktas kept getting closer to Holon, Smith took the bull by the horns and along with key baskets by Rafi Menco and Michale Kyser the hosts were able to hang on and score the 6-point victory.
Smith led the way with 20 points, Chris Johnson added 12 points and Steve Zack chipped in with 10 points in the win. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson led Besiktas with 15 points, Dedric Lawson checked in with 13 points and Trevon Bluiett added 11 points in the defeat.
“We came in sharp and we hit our goals as to what we discussed,” Goodes said following the game. “We started well and there were ups and downs. Besiktas played a different lineup, a big lineup which created some issues for us on the inside but we found solutions including out speed to defend that. The guys did a helluva job this week with three knockout games and I’m really happy that we went three for three. Now we have to take it a step forward.”
“We had an unfortunate chain of events and we were never with our full squad in these three games,” Coach Kandemir explained. “We especially missed Isaiah Whitehead who was injured in a league game that was not suspended. The series was tight and every game ended in the last minutes. We missed some easy baskets and if we were a bit more productive around the rim, we may have been closer but we were chasing them the entire game.”
Michale Kyser opened the game for Hapoel Holon with a mega dunk, but Josh Reaves quickly went from deep, Ronda Hollis-Jefferson added a layup and Trevor Bluiett nailed a 3-pointer to give Besiktas a 10-4 lead midway through the first quarter. Substitute Frederic Bourdillon answered from the beyond the arc, Niv Misgav hit a jumper in the paint, Steve Zack jammed the ball home but Kenan Sipahi put in points to stay in front 16-13 after ten minutes of play.
Dedric Lawson began the second quarter with an easy deuce off the glass, Bluiett did the same but Chris Johnson put in a corner 3-ball and Adam Smith stole the ensuing inbounds pass and scored a layup to help Guy Goodes’s squad pull even with Besiktas 20-20 with 7:34 left in the half. Zack scored an easy bucket in the paint, Johnson dialled up long distance from the top of the arc but Bluiett scored a 3-pointer to break up the host’s run which put Holon ahead 31-23 with 3:27 remaining in the period.
Hollis-Jefferson found points, Rafi Menco scored his first basket of the game from downtown, Bluiett and Lawson came right back to cut the lead but Smith scored as the halftime buzzer went to give Holon a 39-30 advantage.
Reaves and Sipahi scored a quick pair of baskets to get the third quarter underway, Johnson and Zack responded while Smith drained a triple and added a layup to keep Holon ahead 48-36 midway through the frame. Hollis-Jefferson put in a deuce, Zack scored at the other end as Joe Ragland and Bourdillon went from deep, however, baskets by Sipahi and Osmani helped the visitors cut the lead to 58-52 after thirty minutes of action.
Smith scored the first points of the fourth quarter off the glass to break a 3+ minute scoreless stretch to begin the final frame, Lawson hit free throws and went from deep while Kyser dunked to keep Holon in front 63-59 with under four minutes left in regulation time. Ragland went in for a layup, Lawson did the same, Smith scored a floater as the shot clock expired, Menco nailed a corner 3-pointer but points from Hollis-Jefferson and Ercan Osmani kept Besiktas hanging around down 70-66 with 1:01 to go. Osmani scored in the paint, Smith scored a pair of free throws but Sipahi missed a layup and Bourdillon put the finishing touches on the win to take Holon to the Round of 16 group stage.