There were surprises this round of games no doubt, but none bigger than Bnei Herzliya’s 79-74 road win at Hapoel Holon in a replay matchup of last year’s finals. Oren Aharoni’s team were without an injured Quinton Hooker which was a big blow for the squad, but on any well coached team other players stepped up in his stead to fill the void. Whether that was seldom used point guard Oded Brandwein who knocked down two crucial 3-pointers and checked in with 11 points or newcomer Julian Gamble, Sandy Cohen or Chris Babb, Herzliya showed that they have the fortitude and know how to get it done when the times are rough.
“We knew it was going to be a tough fight being without Quinton,” Babb told The Sports Rabbi following the game. “Everyone who played stepped up and made big plays for us. Playing in Holon is no different than playing in any other arena. We stay focused on the goal and came out on top.”
With Hooker going down it didn’t take long for Herzliya to make a move and bring in another player to fill the void and that was Briante Weber who comes to Israel with both NBA and European experience which means he should fit in quite nicely and quickly into the system.
Holon has a big Champions League game coming up when Galatasaray comes to town on Wednesday as the Turkish squad will have one goal in mind and that is to win. For Holon, Guy Goodes will need to take a good look at his team and see where he can be getting more of an effort from because while Erick Green and Joe Ragland are putting up the numbers some of the others are struggling.
Onto another surprise, Hapoel Eilat sunk Hapoel Galil Elyon 88-76 down by the Red Sea in a game that Ariel Beit Halachmi’s squad controlled throughout. Eilat are still searching for a point guard and also lost Terran Petteway to a shoulder injury that will keep him out for some time. Add onto that a meek offensive contribution by Nate Grimes and Eilat needed not only for the other 3 imports to step up which they did but also a solid showing from the Israelis which is exactly what happened to the tune of 31 points. Whether it was Noam Avivi, Amit Gershon, Netanel Artzi or Ido Harel, each one stepped up but most notably Harel who featured for the Maccabiah Israel team this summer.
Harel played a solid 12 minutes and delivered 5 points knocking down a deuce and a triple while ending the game with a +8. The victory was Eilat’s first of the season and they have Hapoel Jerusalem coming up on Friday in the capital city.
“This was a very important win for the club,” Harel commented to The Sports Rabbi. We fought and battled and left everything on the court. I am very happy for all of my teammates and I am sure that this will push us forward. I hope that Terran has a speedy recovery and this win was for him.”
For the Galilee based team, Barak Peleg must have been pretty disappointed with the defensive effort his team put in or the lack there of. They will need to button that down should they want to solidify a spot in the upper half of the standings. Giving up an average of 89 points per regulation game is just way, way too much.
While we’re on the topic of defense, there was little to be found at in Beer Sheva as the hosts knocked off newcomers Kiryat Ata 100-99 thanks to a game winning triple by Khalil Ahmad as the clock wound down to give Lior Lubin his first win of the season. Beer Sheva has been shall we say a notch even worse on defense than Galil Elyon, giving up over 95 points per game while scoring 92 and are now 1-2. One of the players who has been able to benefit from the high scoring is Roy Paretsky. The small forward has really been able to rise to the occasion this season, his first in the top league and has surprised many with his fine play early on scoring 11.3 points, going 8/11 from deep (72.7%) in 19 minutes per game. So not only is he putting the ball into the basket, Paretsky is also playing roughly 20 minutes per game and looks really good so far.
“We felt that we should have won our first two games as well but they slipped through our fingers,” explained Paretsky. “This win was super important as no one wanted to begin 0-3. The first W is always exciting even more so when it was so dramatic. This will always be remembered as the team’s first win of the season but also my first victory in the Premier League.”
Paretsky grew up in a small town called Zoran in central Israel where he began playing basketball in his youth. He then moved onto Kfar Saba and the last two seasons he played for Netanya in the Leumit League where he scored 13+ points to go along with 3.5 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game in his second year with the club.
As for Kiryat Ata, they will have Israeli guard Michael Brisker in the lineup next game when they tipoff at home against his former team in Hapoel Tel Aviv at home on Saturday night. The club is expecting big things from the sharpshooter and there is no reason to believe that he won’t be able to deliver the goods.
Hapoel Jerusalem had a tough time with Hapoel Gilboa Galil but finally finished them off 69-60 in a rough and tumble game. While the Reds got the proverbial monkey off of their backs and recorded their first win of the season they lost forward Oz Blayzer to a shoulder injury in the second half of the game. Head coach Aleksandar Dzikic was not optimistic that the forward will be on the court soon, “It’s a super ugly situation and we will know more after his body reacts to see the level of damage and how long he will be out. He’s important to us with his energy and he can change a game.”
While the bench boss believes that Blayzer will be out for some time, the player himself knew right off the bat that his shoulder had separated but that it went back into place by the time he got into the lockerroom. So there is some hope it won’t be a long term injury but as Dzikic said the club will know more after a couple of days or so.
Here’s hoping that Blayzer will be back on the court soon.