Jan 9, 2024 | Holyland Hoops

We present you with the Sports Rabbi’s update of women’s hoops from the Holy Land – whether they’re playing in Israel or the US, we are here to let you know what you need to know in Israeli women’s basketball!

The Athena Winner League (Israeli’s premier women’s basketball league) continued with Round 8 on Monday night, with the results again showing the gaps in skill levels between the teams.

While the game between the last two undefeated teams, Elitzur Ramle and Maccabi Ramat Gan, was slated as the game of the round, it ended up being a one-sided affair with Ramle handing the visitors their first loss for the season in an 83-49 thrashing. Maccabi Bnot Ashdod had a big 83-59 victory away at Bnot Petah Tikvah, Hapoel Rishon Letzion with captain Eden Zipel leading the way had a convincing 75-53 win away at Hapoel Holon, while Maccabi Haifa got their second win of the season and left ASA Bank Yahav Jerusalem without a win after 8 games in a 90-66 victory in the Holy Land capital.

Shir Tirosh – Photo Credit: Yehuda Halickman

The Sports Rabbi was in attendance at the closest game of the round between Hapoel Lev Jerusalem and AS Ramat Hasharon. Shir Tirosh had the hot hand early on for Jerusalem, but Ramat Hasharon’s Dor Saar – an MVP candidate this season – knocked down a pair from deep along with points from captain Ofir Kesten which gave the visitors a 19-16 lead after 10 minutes of play.

Kesten continued to score at will in the second quarter, while her opposing captain Alyssa Baron did the same for Limor Peleg’s squad to give the hosts a slim 32-31 lead at halftime.

Noor Kayuf started to score for Jerusalem to begin the third quarter and Rotem Shuster countered for the visitors, but Hodaya Kabada and Baron found points to open up a 51-40 lead leading into the final 10 minutes. Although Saar looked to get her team back into the game with a triple to start the fourth quarter, Jennifer Fleischer came back with points in the paint while Baron and Kayuf kept hitting from deep to wrap up the 68-54 win and move into equal third place in the standings with Ramat Hasharon and Maccabi Bnot Ashdod.

Photo Credit: Yehuda Halickman

“You know, we made a few changes and we had a few injuries,” Pelleg said of her team’s adjustments to get back into the win column. “Then when everyone got back to practice and stuff, I think we’re finally starting to look like we want to look. The team’s playing really well together offensively and defensively.”

One of the highlights on defense was Kabada’s effort on Saar, who scored below her season average in the game.

“I keep telling the girls that as much as they’re talented offensively, defense wins games,” Pelleg said. “I’m really glad – Hodaya is not known for her defense and she’s really been stepping up these last few games. She’s getting defensive missions and she’s stepping up on them.”
Due to the current war in Israel, only Israeli players participated in the first round of games between the teams, which concludes with Round 9 next week. Teams are now able to sign foreigners, who will be able to join rosters for the second round of games.

Round 8 Results (home teams listed first)
Game of the Week: Elitzur Ramle defeated Maccabi Ramat Gan 83-49 

Best for Ramle: Eden Rotberg (20 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists and 5 steals), Daniel Raber (16 points, 4 rebounds and 3 assists), Tslil Vaturi (15 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists and 1 steal) and Jennie Simms (10 points, 8 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 steals) 

Best for Ramat Gan: Drew Edelman (22 points, 12 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 blocks)

Hapoel Lev Jerusalem defeated AS Ramat Hasharon 68-54

Best for Hapoel Jerusalem: Alyssa Baron (20 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists and 3 steals), Noor Kayuf (15 points, 2 rebounds, 2 steals and 1 block), Shir Tirosh (13 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists and 1 steal) and Jennifer Fleischer (10 points, 15 rebounds and 2 assists)

Best for Ramat Hasharon: Dor Saar (21 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 steals) and Ofir Kesten Raz (20 points, 11 rebounds, 2 assists and 3 steals)

Bnot Petach Tikva defeated Maccabi Bnot Ashdod 59-83

Best for Petah Tikva: Mariam Hannoun (17 points, 5 rebounds, 7 assists, 2 steals and 2 blocks) and Lihi Azouri (12 points, 3 rebounds, 1 assist and 1 steal)

Best for Ashdod: Tal Lev (22 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists and 4 steals), Danielle Karsh (21 points, 4 rebounds, 8 assists and 7 steals), Tal Yakov (14 points, 12 rebounds, 3 assists and 6 steals) and May Dayan (10 points, 3 rebounds, 6 assists and 1 steal)

Elitzur Holon defeated by Hapoel Rishon Letzion 53-75

Best for Holon: Noa Zelivanski (15 points, 4 rebounds, 5 assists and 1 steal) and Feyisayo Olawole (13 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists and 3 steals)

Best for Rishon Letzion: Eden Zipel (33 points, 15 rebounds, 6 assists, 3 steals and 1 block), Dorian Dahan Sujic (18 points, 8 rebounds, 4 assists and 1 steal) and Hila Karsh (14 points, 5 rebounds, 1 assist and 1 steal)

ASA Bank Yahav Jerusalem defeated by Maccabi Haifa 66-90
Best for ASA Jerusalem: Tamar Bar Gal (14 points, 8 rebounds and 1 assist), Daniela Ben Avi (13 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists and 4 steals) and Inbar Tene (10 points, 7 rebounds and 1 block) 

Best for Haifa: May Revahe (25 points, 8 rebounds, 6 assists and 5 steals), Tamar Singer (16 points, 10 rebounds, 12 assists and 3 steals), Lean Odeh (14 points, 8 rebounds, 5 assists and 6 steals) and Mika Bitan (14 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists and 3 steals)

Round 9 Schedule (home teams listed first) – Monday January 15, 2024
AS Ramat Hasharon vs Elitzur Ramle
Maccabi Haifa vs Hapoel Lev Jerusalem
Hapoel Rishon Letzion vs ASA Bank Yahav Jerusalem
Maccabi Bnot Ashdod vs Elitzur Holon
Maccabi Ramat Gan vs Bnot Petach Tikva

Standings After Round 8
1. Elitzur Ramle (8-0, +212)
2. Maccabi Ramat Gan (7-1, +87)
3. Maccabi Bnot Ashdod (5-3, +59)
4. Hapoel Lev Jerusalem (5-3, +41)
5. AS Ramat Hasharon (5-3, +12)
6. Hapoel Rishon Letzion (4-4, +52)
– – – – – – – – – — – – – – – – – – – – — – – –
7. Bnot Petach Tikva (3-5, -57)
8. Maccabi Haifa (2-6, -38)
9. Elitzur Holon (1-7, -149)
10. ASA Bank Yahav Jerusalem (0-8, -219)

The Athena Winner Tournament, the Israeli women’s basketball preseason tournament, did not finish during the offseason due to the war. The tournament will conclude this Thursday night with two of the in-form teams, Elitzur Ramle and Hapoel Rishon Letzion, playing against each other at the Kiryat Menachem Arena in Ramle, with the tipoff scheduled for 17:40 IST (10:40 EST).

The tournament, which is being used as an opportunity to call for the return of hostages and to make a stand in the fight against violence against women, will be attended by Israeli Minister of Culture and Sport Miki Zohar, Ramle Mayor Michael Vidal and Rishon Letzion Mayor Raz Kinstlich.

Earlier this week the draw for the State Cup Semi-Finals, which will be held at Beit Maccabi in Rishon Letzion on Monday March 4, was held. The winners of the Semi-Finals will play against each other at the same stadium later that week on Thursday March 7 for in the Final.

Semi-Finals – Monday March 4, 2024

Semi-Final 1: AS Ramat Hasharon vs Elitzur Ramle

Semi-Final 2: Hapoel Lev Jerusalem vs Hapoel Rishon Letzion

Final (home teams listed first) – Thursday March 7, 2024

Winner of Semi-Final 1 vs Winner of Semi-Final 2


Team Israel star Yarden Garzon continues to impress for the no. 14 ranked Indiana Hoosiers. While she ahs been quiet in the Hoosiers’ last two wins, 91-69 over the Nebraska Cornhuskers (3 points ,2 rebounds and 4 assists) and 80-59 over the Michigan Wolverines (6 points and 5 rebounds), the Ra’anana native is averaging 11.6 points, 3.7 rebounds and 3.8 assists in 28.3 minutes per game in 2023-24. The Hoosiers will be looking to continue their 12-game winning streak this week when they host the 10-4 Penn State in Big Ten conference play.

Yarden Garzon’s sister and fellow Team Israel star, the 9-5 Oklahoma State Cowgirls’ junior forward Lior Garzon, is also continuing strongly in the 2023-24 season – her senior season – averaging 11.0 points, 3.7 rebounds and 1.4 assists per game. The Cowgirls have won two in a row, including a 67-59 win over the no. 23 ranked TCU Horned Frogs, a game in which Garzon recorded 10 points, 7 rebounds and 2 assists in 38 minutes of play. The Cowgirls host the 13-3 Texas Tech in their Big 12 conference showdown this week.

Junior guard for the 9-3 Toledo Rockets, Emmi Rinat, also continues to improve as the season continues, averaging 7.0 points, 2.5 rebounds and 1.8 assists for the 2023-24 season. The Rockets have won three games in a row and will next face the 5-7 Western Michigan Broncos – themselves on a three game losing streak – in MAC conference play this week.

Freshman guard Shirel Nahum, playing for the 9-5 UC Irvine Anteaters, is averaging 5.6 points, 2.4 rebounds and 0.8 assists. While last wek’s 57-60 loss to UC Davis Aggies was a game to forget for Nahum, she and her team will be looking to make amends in this week’s Big West contest at home against the 6-6 Hawai’I Rainbow Wahine.

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