Nes Ziona defeated Hapoel Afula 77-73 in a tight contest to open up the Winner League season. In what was a back and forth clash throughout the 40 minutes, Itay Segev was the game changer for the hosts as the veteran center not only scored important baskets but also brought a ton of intangibles to the court as Elad Hasin’s team featured five players in double digits. Roie Perel’s squad kept the match up close and took a 2-point lead into halftime on the strength of Spencer Weisz’s sharpshooting, it wasn’t enough to take the win.
Segev led the way with 15 points, Dusty Hannahs added 13 points while Demonte Harper scored 12 points in the victory. Kasey Sheperd scored 17 points and Weisz added 15 points in the defeat.
“There are no easy games in this league,” Hasin said. “Afula played well against Holon and are a pretty strong team. We were a bit nervous at the start but in the 2nd half we were better. We have a lot to improve on and unlike Maccabi, Hapoel Tel Aviv or Jerusalem we have to fight against every team and on every possession.”
“For most of the game I was happy with our defense,” Pearl began. “We could have played better and kept it close, but ran out of energy We need to learn from this game and keep moving forward.”
Demonte Harper reflected on the win, “We expected it to be tough. They fought and played hard but we expected that. Luckily we pulled out the win and the fans gave us lots of energy in the first game of the season.”
Spencer Weisz also looked back at the game, “I thought we came out aggressive with everyone watching in the season opener. It was time to show what Afula is like. We were good for the first 3 quarters but it got a little tough at the end. We need to learn from this game going forward.”
Moreira got busy in the paint for Hapoel Afula as Kasey Sheperd, Spencer Weisz and Tomer Assayag all went from deep, but Dusty Hannahs and Itay Segev kept Nes Ziona close but down 19-14 after ten minutes of play. Segev continued to score while Isaiah Whitehead and Demonte Harper put the hosts in the lead, Noam Avivi responded with a pair of buckets for the visitors, while Weisz hit two from deep to keep Roie Pearl’s team in front 38-36 at halftime.
Weisz and Whitehead traded triples to begin the third quarter, Hannahs and Assayag did the same from inside the arc, Lucas Goldenberg and Yair Kravits also went back and forth for the two sides, while Sheperd and Hannahs each went from downtown as the game headed into the final frame knotted up at 54-54. Moreira and Sheperd scored for Afula, Kravits and Harper responded, Segev and Assayag went back and forth, Weisz went from deep but Jerome Meyinsse hit an easy deuce as did Hannahs while Harper salted away the win.