Hapoel Tel Aviv eased into the Winner Cup semifinals with a 92-78 win over Bnei Herzliya as J’Covan Brown led the way for the Reds in the victory. After a close first half of play, Danny Franco’s squad pulled away in the final frame as Brown took control of the proceedings and paced Hapoel past Oren Aharoni’s team. Next up will be a date with Hapoel Jerusalem on Wednesday night at 20:30 back in Hadera as the winner will head to the finals of the competition.
Hapoel Tel Aviv controlled the game from outset with fine play by Xavier Munford and JP Tokoto as a 15-0 run in the second quarter gave the Reds a 46-33 lead but Andy Van Vliet and Sandy Cohen helped Bnei Herzliya close the gap to 46-44 by halftime. Maurice Kemp kept Aharoni’s squad close in the third quarter but J’Covan Brown turned up the aggressiveness over the last ten minutes to send Hapoel to the 14-point win.
Brown led the way with 19 points, 9 assists and 8 rebounds, Munford added 16 points and Bar Timor chipped in with 12 points in the win. Kemp paced Herzliya with 21 points and 8 rebounds while Robert Carter added 16 points in the loss.
“We had a lot of ups and downs with various issues on the court and we need to know how to play the game with intelligence and proper play,” Hapoel coach Danny Franco said. “It’s still early and the start of the season. The players are learning each other. We want to win every game and winning the Winner Cup doesn’t mean that much, it’s the Cup of Lies.”
Game MVP J’Covan Brown looked back at the win, “Just trying to be aggressive, new year, new me, new team, my job is to lead. I have to show up every night and not take nights off. I got myself in shape. We are almost there we get the new guys involved as they understand how we play, stop thinking, play free, shoot the ball. I’m the leader and I’ve got your back. Chag Sameach, good night, happy holidays I love you guys.”
“Hapoel was able to take control as they ramped up their aggressiveness in the 4th quarter and when they opened up a 10-point gap we had a problem trying to come back from that,” Herzliya coach Oren Aharoni commented. “The players off the bench have to raise their level of aggressiveness and we didn’t see much of that which we needed.”