“I bring that leadership and calming factor to the guys” Chris Kramer helps Jerusalem overcome Rishon Le’Zion 103-96 in overtime. Plus Bnei Herzliya, Holon & Gilboa all win in Balkan League action

Hapoel Jerusalem defeated Maccabi Rishon Le’Zion 103-96 in a up tempo Balkan League game that was decided in overtime. Rishon came out strong and led most of the way thanks to terrific showings by Golan Gutt (21 points), Isaiah Taylor (27 points), Akil Mitchell (18 points & 19 rebounds) and Darryl Monroe (14 points). But a strong second half and extra session by the Reds who were led by Malcolm Hill (22 points), Tarik Phillip (21 points), Tashawn Thomas (15 points & 13 rebounds), Chris Kramer (12 points) and Tamir Blatt (11 points) helped Oded Katash’s squad to the win.

Dov Halickman Photography

Akil Mitchell with 10 points dominated the first quarter for Maccabi Rishon Le’Zion while Isaiah Taylor added 8 points as the hosts grabbed a 28-20 lead after ten minutes. Hapoel Jerusalem’s defense got to work in the second frame and their offense picked up thanks to Tashawn Thomas and Suleiman Braimoh as they closed the gap to 39-35 by halftime.

Golan Gutt, Darryl Monroe and Taylor found the basket for Rishon in the third quarter but Tarik Phillip got busy for Jerusalem as Adam Ariel hit a triple against his former club to knot up the score at 63-63 after thirty minutes of play.

Dov Halickman Photography

Taylor for Rishon and Malcolm Hill for the Reds traded baskets but Gutt continued to find the bottom of the bucket to give Rishon a 83-76 lead midway through the fourth quarter. However, Thomas scored a layup and Hill hit a triple to send the game to overtime. Phillip and Tamir Blatt drilled home 3-pointers, Chris Kramer scored a layup and Hill hit another triple as Jerusalem rolled over Rishon in the extra session 103-96.

Dov Halickman Photography

1) It took Jerusalem some time to out it together, but once they did, Oded Katash’s squad were able to comeback to tie up the game to face overtime and then they were able to pull away from Guy Goodes’s Rishon team in the extra session and take the win. Both Malcolm Hill and Tarik Phillip were instrumental in the turnaround as the pair led the Reds to the win with points a plenty in the second half. Midway through the third quarter, Hill was still sitting on the bench waiting to get back into the game but the minutes kept clicking off the clock as he continued to be just glued to the pine. It was clear Hill wanted back in and probably the frustration was building up just a bit as he at on only 3 points. J’Covan Brown who was sitting a few rows back went down and put his arms around Hill and comforted him probably telling him that don’t worry you’ll get your chance. And that’s exactly what happened. Hill got his chance and was on fire the rest of the way scoring 19 points to bring his game total to 22. The key here was the captain, Brown, sensing his teammate’s feelings and giving him a good word that just got him going once back in the game. Although Brown may not be on the court he certainly will influence the team.

Dov Halickman Photography

2) Chris Kramer made his Jerusalem debut and it was solid as solid could be. The guard entered the game and made an immediate impact on the defensive side plus was able to contribute offensively as well. But it wasn’t just his play on both sides of the court, it was his leadership and attitude as well. “Chris along with the other new players have great character and you can see his positive leadership,” explained Coach Oded Katash. “He can do so many things on the court and is a great defender but it will take time because he is new and it’s a process.” There were a number of times where Kramer’s veteran experience came into play as he needed to slow the action down and make sure that the Reds got points as time wound down. The guard spoke about what he wanted to do as the game moved into crunch time, “With my experience and playing at all the levels, I wanted to make sure that we took advantage of the mismatches that we got. I wanted to make sure that we would control the game and our offense led to our defense so if we take bad shots or turn the ball over we put ourselves in a bind defensively. I just wanted to be a calming factor to the guys and tell them to take a deep breath, make sure we are organized and go through our set. I bring that leadership and calming factor to the guys.”

Dov Halickman Photography

3) There were a ton of positives that Rishon coach Guy Goodes can take form the game especially from Akil Mitchell and Isaiah Taylor’s fine play along with solid performances from Golan Gutt and Darryl Monroe. It’s clear though that Taylor will be in the position to make a difference whether it’s putting up a tough shot, driving to the basket or finding an open teammate. “I bring grit, swagger and confidence to the team,” said Taylor as he explained what he brings to the table. “I give them the confidence to do what they do on the court. My attacking ability and my ability to make plays off the dribble to get my teammates involved. Coach has instilled with us to play hard, compete and come out to win every night.”


Other Balkan League Results
Bnei Herzliya downed Hapoel Haifa 90-71 in a battle of the Israeli League newcomers in their Balkan League debuts. Sharon Drucker’s Herzliya jumped out to a 32-10 lead after the first quarter and cruised to the 19 point victory. Frank Gaines scored 23 points, Coty Clarke added 21 points and Isaiah Eisendorf chipped in with 13 points in the win. Jason Siggers led Haifa with 19 points and Lenard Freeman added 13 points in the loss.

The star of the show, Frank Gaines was all smiles after the game, “Great team win. We shared the ball a lot and played to our strengths. We still have to continue to build and be better everyday and build off of this win.”


Hapoel Holon defeated Nes Ziona 94-73 in a game that was never in doubt as Stefanos Dedas’s squad recorded a convincing win. Isaiah Miles and CJ Harris each scored 16 points while Tyrus McGee and Chris Johnson each dropped 15 points in the win. Patrick Miller and Jordan Murphy each scored 17 points in the loss.

“We played with AMAZING tempo!” said an excited Isaiah Miles following the win. “And did a great job sharing the ball and getting everyone involved! This is a great team and even though it’s the first game, we showed that this is going to be a fun season!”


Hapoel Gilboa Galil dropped Maccabi Haifa 92-81 in Gan Ner as the two time Balkan League champion opened the new campaign with a victory. Big man Kerry Blackshear and guard Joe Thomasson each scored 16 points while Iftach Ziv added 14 points and Isaiah Cousins scored 12 points in the win. Chris Dowe was the Haifa high scorer with 23 points, Le’Bryan Nash added 22 points and Roman Sorkin scored 16 points in the defeat.

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