Raining 3’s: Hapoel Tel Aviv downs Kiryat Ata, punches ticket to finals

Hapoel Tel Aviv downed Kiryat Ata 100-83 to win their semifinal series 2-1 and cruise into the finals where they will meet Maccabi Tel Aviv in a rematch of last season’s championship series. The reds came out flying as they hit 3-pointer after 3-pointer with Xavier Munford, Tyler Ennis, Bar Timor and Tomer Ginat draining one after the next to take a 30-18 lead after the first quarter and never look back to record the lopsided victory.

The Reds will now ready for the best-of-3 finals against the yellow-and-blue beginning on Thursday night (9pm) at Yad Eliyahu with game two slated for Saturday night at the Drive In and game three if necessary back at Maccabi’s home arena on Monday night.

“Thirty minutes we played amazing defense and amazing offense and we made some big shots but had great hustle on defense,” Hapoel Tel Aviv Head Coach Stefanos Dedas said. “The team gave a show basketball wise and I am very proud of the guys and my staff. We have quality, we solved problems and mistakes and are ready to compete against Maccabi.”

Photo Credit: Yehuda Halickman

“We were forced to play with three guards without Holland and we had multi creation which helped us find shots and his absence have us that ability, we had a a lot of open shots and spot up shots. That gave us confidence and I think Bar Timor was the key after the Holland injury.”

Head Coach Sharon Avrahami summed up Kiryat Ata’s season, “We started the season with a smaller budget and we lost a pair of key Israeli players and also didn’t have some imports that w head in the previous season. As we stated to play the season we began to gain confidence as we won game after game and also picked up victories over some of the top teams. The fact that we stayed in the top league was the most important thing for the club and we would have loved to have picked up another foreigner as we only were playing with three and because some were injured.”

“We ended up winning the Ramat Gan season which was also tremendous and we also won the first game of this series in we also missed out at home in game two when it was 57-57 but came up short. In this game we were already just too tired and didn’t have our legs at all. But what was even more impressive was with who we were able to have this season with young Israeli guys like Raz Adam, Ben Saraf and Guy Palatin amongst others.”

The MVP Bar Timor looked back at the series and finding a way to take the game three win, “Yeah. Wow. We went through a bad week. I have no other way to say it. The way it started, we knew how they were going to play and we still fell for it and that’s what hurt us. I have to congratulate them because they have way less depth and possibly talent and they were under our skin throughout the series. Gladly we came with that same anger from the result of game 1 and that’s what led to our momentum. Our aggression and defence are what made the difference. That’s what won the series.”

Photo Credit: Yehuda Halickman

Raz Adam wrapped up the Kiryat Ata season, “I think we can really hold our heads up high after this season and did so much for Israeli basketball. We brought so many children to our games from the area of the Krayot and the guys really deserve a ton of credit for that. We had an excellent year and ended in the top four. I think that I always want to lead and take responsibility which I felt I needed to do in this game. I really love the game of basketball.

Bar Timor opened the game with a corner 3-ball for Hapoel Tel Aviv, Amin Stevens came back with points inside off a terrific pass from James Batemon for Kiryat Ata, Xavier Munford went to the hoop, Jaylen Hoard and Tomer Ginat scored off breaks, Akia Pruitt countered but Tyler Ennis went from deep to give the reds a 14-8 lead midway through the first quarter. Ennis again went from downtown, JJ Kaplan put in a reverse, Munford and Ginat responded, Ben Saraf scored a pair of baskets, Raz Adam but a Gil Beni and Timor drilled home 3-pointers to give the hosts a commanding 30-18 lead after ten minutes of play.

Stevens put in a deuce and Saraf a triple as Kiryat Ata looked to cut into the deficit as the second quarter got underway, Timor came right back from beyond the arc, Isaiah Mucius scored inside, Ennis dropped another 3-pointer but Saraf came back with points to keep Sharon Avrahami’S team hanging around but down 38-29 with five minutes left in the first half. Ginat went from deep, Pruitt dunked, Munford drained Hapoel’s 10th 3-pointer of the game, Stevens scored a pair inside while Dusty Hannahs joined the party with points from deep to take a 49-35 advantage.

Ennis began the third quarter with points a plenty, Hoard put in a 3-point play, Stevens and Pruitt tried to keep Kiryat Ata relevant but Ginat drained another triple to give Hapoel a 60-41 lead midway through the period. Ginat kept hitting from downtown while Timor did the same, Hannahs and Zalmanson scored as well while Munford went from deep and so did Hannahs to mercifully end the quarter and give the reds a 86-53 lead after thirty minutes of action.

Stevens, Adam, Kaplan and Saraf all tried to cut down the gap but Hoard kept scoring as did Ginat to polish off the blowout win and move into the finals.

Photo Credit: Yehuda Halickman

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