Hapoel Tel Aviv just got by Nes Ziona 102-97 in overtime as Jordan McRae scored all of his 24 points after the first half to lead the way for the Reds to the tough win. With the victory, Danny Franco’s squad moved their record to 12-2 on the season as they remain in first place and will now ready for a EuroCup road trip to Italy for a date with Trento.
Chinanu Onuaku along with Xavier Munford, Tomer Ginat and Bar Timor helped Hapoel to a 38-31 halftime lead, but Jerome Meyinsee on the inside and Ronnie Harrell from the outside were able to push the hosts ahead 59-57 by the end of the third quarter. McRae caught fire and scored every which way for the Reds to send the game into the extra session tied at 90-90 where the swingman kept scoring at will while Munford nailed a big 3-pointer down the stretch to notch the victory.
McRae led the way with 24 points, Munford scored 19 points, Ginat added 18 points and Onuaku recorded a double-double with 15 points and 16 rebounds in the win. Meyinsee paced Nes Ziona with 28 points, Harrell scored 22 points and Raz Adam chipped in with 14 points in the loss.
“I’m very happy that we won,” Franco began after the win. “A team needs to know how to find a way to win a game like this. This was an important win and we are trying to make sure we stay where we are in the standings, everyone wants to beat us but when you are in first place you have to play differently as you want to keep your spot in the standings.”
“It was a good game with a lot of lead changes and I’m very proud as to how we played as we were missing some players,” Nes Ziona coach Elad Hasin explained. “It wasn’t the result we wanted but it was the way we played which I am content about. We played without size and with foul issues so I have to take off my hat to the guys.”
Game MVP Jordan McRae looked back at the win, “They went on a run in the second half and they played well. I started making some shots and it was a really great team effort as Tomer Ginat and Xavier Munford made some big shots along with Chinanu Onuaku and grabbed big rebounds. It was a total team game. I try to do what I can do. I was out with the flu and being able to get back into the flow in the second half was great.”
Shaq Buchanan also spoke about the game that was, “It shows what we are capable of if we can play 40 minutes. When we put it together we will finish the season well.”
Jerome Meyinsee found points inside for Nes Ziona, but Tomer Ginat and Bar Timor each had a couple of baskets a piece to give Hapoel Tel Aviv an early 17-15 lead after ten minutes of play. Chinanu Onuaku got busy in the paint, while Adam Ariel and Xavier Munford dialed up long distance for Danny Franco’s squad as Ronnie Harrell drilled home a pair from downtown for Elad Hasin’s team but Hapoel took a 38-31 lead at halftime.
DJ Cooper from deep, Meyinsee inside and Tyler Bey with a big dunk allowed Nes Ziona to take a 43-40 lead midway through the third quarter. Raz Adam and Shaq Buchanan went from downtown, Jordan McRae scored a quartet of baskets, but Meyinsee scored another bucket in the paint to give the hosts a 59-57 lead after thirty minutes of action.
Meyinsee and McRae continued to fill the basket for their respective teams as Nes Ziona clung on to a 72-69 lead with five minuets remaining in the fourth quarter. Xavier Munford and Tomer Ginat went from beyond the arc, Harrell and Cooper responded, Onuaku put in points, Harrell drilled home another pair from deep but Meyinsee fouled out with under a minute to go as the game headed to overtime all knotted up at 90-90.
McRae took the bull by the horns with a deuce and a triple, Adam came back with a 3-point play but Munford knocked down a corner 3 and added a pair free throws as Hapoel wrapped up the win.
Maccabi Tel Aviv fought off feisty Kiryat Ata to take a 100-88 win up north to get back onto the winning track. The hosts got off to a good start as Chavaughn Lewis got hot early to give Sharon Avrahami’s team a 47-41 lead at halftime. But Iftach Ziv, Jake Cohen and Roman Sorkin began to find the basket in the third quarter to put the yellow-and-blue in front for gold as they took the 12-point victory.
Ziv paced Maccabi with 16 points, Jake Cohen added 15 points, while Wade Baldwin, Roman Sorkin and Darren Hilliard all checked in with 11 points in the win. Lewis led all scorers with 29 points, Juvonte Reddic, Diante Garrett and Amin Stevens all had 13 points in the loss.
“This was a vey tough game and we were very tired,” Maccabi coach Oded Katash began. “But the players found the energy and as a coach needed I needed to help them do just that. It’s not easy to play with such a grueling schedule and this week is not easy mentally as well as physically. But am happy as to how the players reacted at teh end of the day to get the win.”
Jake Cohen reflected on the game, “It was a hard game energy wise and we need to do better. We need to take care of the start of the game to make our lives easier and realized this was going to take energy. I’m glad we got out of here with a win. A lot of times around this time of year the focus is on the Euroleague, but there is no excuse, this is the life as Maccabi, it’s not just Thursday’s that we need to be ready for.”
Hapoel Beer Sheva traveled up north to the Carmel Mountain and took home a 93-77 win over Hapoel Haifa as David Efiyani went off for 26 of his 31 points in the second half to lead Lior Lubin’s team to the victory. Ben Moore added 21 points and Egor Koulechov scored 12 points for the southern reds while Kadeem Allen scored 20 points and Shawn Jones chipped in with 16 points in the defeat.
“We really worked very hard on defense and we focussed on that throughout the game,” Beer Sheva coach Lior Lubin explained. “We were able to really get to the rebounds and close out some of their dangerous players with translated to the win.”
The MVP David Efiyani also spoke about the game, “I just tried to be aggressive and took advantage with the defensive switches. Once I started to get my shots going and I saw the rim things went in. But it’s all about the aggressiveness. But defense was the key and when we play it at a high level we can compete with anybody.”