Holon upends Hapoel Tel Aviv 98-90 as Amir stars

Feb 17, 2024 | Holyland Hoops

Hapoel Holon started the week in style with a 98-90 victory at home over first place Hapoel Tel Aviv. While the visitors remain on top of the standings at 11-3, the purples move to 7-5 to push for a top-6 spot with games in hand over fellow contenders around the same place in the standings due to the European schedule.

It took 90 seconds for the first basket of the game, with a strong drive to the hoop from Tomer Ginat giving him a layup and-one to start. While Kevin Hervey responded immediately, Ginat went to the basket hard again for another bucket while fouled, but was unable to convert from the free throw line (6/11 for the night). Hapoel Tel Aviv continued to drive into the paint as Xavier Munford, Kyle Alexander and J’Covan Brown added their own points under the basket. However, Niv Misgav and Drew Crawford added points on the other end, which together with defensive stops and another Hervey 3-pointer reduced the deficit to 11-10 midway through the first quarter. Both teams started to hit 3-pointers – Munford and Brown for the Reds and Misgav, Crawford and Shahar Amir for the Purples. But a 4-point play from Brown gave the visitors a 24-21 lead after 10 minutes.

Kevin Hervey – Photo Credit: Basket.co.il

Hapoel Tel Aviv started the second quarter attacking the basket again. It worked with Jaylen Hoard getting fouled, but only managing to make one of two from the charity stripe. At the other end, Yotam Hanochi went better by making a layup while fouled and getting the 3-point play. That was immediately followed by another triple from Misgav on the next play. However Gil Beni showed that not only the Reds’ bigs are dangerous under the basket, but so are their guards. While Hapoel Tel Aviv continued to threaten to go on a run – with Alexander and Hoard difficult to stop under the basket – Hapoel Holon didn’t let it happen, with Deondre Burns adding back-to-back field goals to keep them within touch, together with a nice assist to Hans Vanwijn for three and it was 36-36 halfway through the second quarter.

When Amir scored another 3-pointer to give Hapoel Holon their biggest lead of the game, Hapoel Tel Aviv coach Danny Franco was forced to call a timeout to try to get his players to focus. And it worked, with Bar Timor getting his first points of the game – a 3-pointer – to stop the Purple rain. The teams traded buckets before another 3 for Brown, a layup for Timor and a buzzer-beater layup for Alexander on a nice assist from Hoard gave Hapoel Tel Aviv a 51-46 halftime lead.

Hoard extended the lead out from the halftime break with a mid-range jumper. While Burns responded with his own jump shot, Munford continued to drive to the basket to extend the lead to 56-48 a couple of minutes into the third quarter. But Hapoel Holon stole the lead back again on the back of a Crawford layup, 3-pointers to Vanwijn and Netanel Artzi (his first points for the game) and a layup to Hanochi, the hosts leading 62-60 more than midway through the period. Instead of panicking, Timor steadied with an and-one to give the visitors the lead again. The teams then traded baskets at the end of the period, but a late drive from Amir to the basket for a buzzer-beater gave the Purples a 74-72 lead after 30 minutes.

Shahar Amir – Photo Credit: Basket.co.il

The hosts started the fourth quarter with a 2-point jumper to Burns and a 3-pointer to Amir to extend the lead to 7 points before Timor made one of two from the free-throw line and Ginat scored on a strong layup for an and-one to made it 79-76. When Gil Beni drew an offensive foul from Burns – Hapoel Holon’s 5th for the quarter inside the first 5 minutes – and followed it up with a layup on the other end, the lead was only 1 point. It was Amir who scored a clutch jumper under pressure to extend the lead again, and a 3-pointer on the team’s next offensive play to give the hosts an 87-85 lead with two minutes left in regulation. Ginat again managed only one of two from the free-throw on the next play, allowing Hervey to then push the lead out to 90-86 with another 3-pointer. While Hapoel Tel Aviv couldn’t convert on their next possession, Crawford fell awkwardly on going for the defensive rebound, ending his night with what looked like a bad knee injury. The hosts maintained their lead, Burns and Misgav perfect from the penalty strip inside the last two minutes to ensure the victory.

Hervey (21 points, 8 rebounds, 2 assists, 3 steals and 1 block), Burns (20 points, 2 rebounds, 5 assists and 1 steal), Amir (a career-high 16 points and 1 rebound) and Misgav (12 points, 2 rebounds and 4 assists) led the scoring for the Purples, while Ginat (23 points, 11 rebounds and 1 block), Brown (14 points, 5 rebounds, 7 assists and 1 steal), Hoard (12 points, 8 rebounds, 1 assist and 1 block) and Alexander (12 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists and 1 block) were in double-figures for the Reds.

“First of all, it’s a win against a very good team,” Hapoel Holon coach Amit Scherf said after the game. “I felt like we defended well all game and they still managed to score 90 points. I’m happy that we managed to stay with them during the game even when we were down by 8 points in the third quarter. Every league game is important in order for us to enter into the top 6 for a guaranteed playoff spot.”

Amit Sherf – Photo credit: Yehuda Halickman

“Kevin [Hervey, who recently joined with the team] is a huge signing for us, especially in the current economic situation, it shows that we’re there,” Scherf said. “If we come with the right momentum in May, we can do big things. We need to come here every game to do it, not just against the big three teams.”

“Naturally, we wanted to go into the [international] break with a win,” Franco said. “Maybe it’s natural that we’re losing focus during the game, which has happened the last few games. Fatigue doesn’t interest me at the moment – I expected that we would be better today. But it was a game in which we didn’t play our game. I don’t think e came here sharp enough, fit enough. It’s not the team that has done so many good things this season. I shouted and it hurt for me, I think we’re far from where we should be. But credit to Holon for the win.”

Shahar Amir – Photo Credit: Basket.co.il

“There’s nothing to say, it was fun, I expected it to come and in a big game,” Amir said of his performance. “I think we came to the game very serious and I think with the proper preparation we did great work.”

“We fell in the second half, we need to recover from this loss,” Beni said after the game. “I don’t think we came unprepared. The loss happened and we have to recover from it.”

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