Ramat Gan drops Herzliya, Afula downs Beer Sheva, Nes Ziona bests Haifa

Nov 29, 2023 | Holyland Hoops

The Israel basketball league was back in action for the first time since the war with Hamas broke out on October 7th as a trio of games took center stage across the country. In addition, Hapoel Tel Aviv and Hapoel Holon were back playing in their continental competitions, the EuroCup and Baseball Champions League respectively in what was a very busy week on the hardwood.

Jordan Cohen – Photo Credit: Guy Bitman, Maccabi Ramat Gan

Maccabi Ramat Gan defeated Bnei Herzliya 80-70 to wrap up their first victory back in the top division. Jordan Cohen and Isaiah Miles had the hot hands for Maccabi Ramat Gan to get the game underway while Robert Carter answered for Bnei Herzliya but JP Tokoto, Adam Ariel and Benyahu Srur helped give the visitors a 51-31 lead at halftime. Sandy Cohen and Herzliya’s new captain Willy Workman started to cut into the Ramat Gan lead but Alex Hamilton turned up the offense to sew up the win.

Cohen led the way with 14 points, Hamilton added 13 points and Tokoto scored 13 points and grabbed 9 rebounds in the win. Carter paced the hosts with 19 points, Workman chipped in with 13 points and 12 rebounds while Cohen scored 12 points in the loss.

Sandy Cohen and Alex Hamilton – Photo Credit: Guy Bitman, Maccabi Ironi Ramat Gan

The game MVP Alex Hamilton spoke about the game that was, “We got an early lead and Herzliya did a great job to get back into the game but we closed it out. It’s years of experience, as guys stepped up and we played as a team. As for how I’ve been able to integrate into the team, the guys in the lockerroom and the staff made it easy for me and everyone here at Ramat Gan has been great. For me to sign in Israel, it is a place that I am comfortable with and if the people are comfortable enough to stay and deal with the tough situation on a daily basis, then I am all for it to come here.”

“It was very tough for the team to come together and click but we were able to do it,” Ramat Gan Head Coach Shmulik Brenner said. “We are coming together without just one star and that is what we are talking about all of the time. Every few minutes it was someone else who stepped up and we can see that everyone here can contribute throughout the game.”

“We didn’t get into the game well and it was if we were just really at a beginning stage,” Herzliya Head Coach Dan Shamir said. “But to get into the game we started playing defense and we also began playing together as a team, however, we have plenty of work to out in and if we aren’t playing well we have to play defense and put in the energy which we didn’t have in the first half of this game.”

In the southern capital, Hapoel Afula picked up their first win in the top league with a 90-81 victory over Hapoel Beer Sheva. Both sides played a tight first half as Ira Lee paced the hosts to a 44-41 lead, however, the visitors outscored the hosts in the second half and featured five players in double digits including Noam Avivi who checked in with a career game to help Roie Perel’s team to the victory.

Avivi led the way with 29 points and 8 rebounds, Spencer Weisz recorded a 16 point and 12 rebound double-double while Lucas Goldenberg added 15 points in the win. Egor Koulechov scored 15 points, Led chipped in with 13 points and Grant Sherfield scored 12 points in the loss.

Roi Perel – Photo Credit: Yehuda Halickman

“We had a good run once we switched to playing a zoom defense,” Perel said. “It was tough to give up 44 points in the first half and we were able to cut that down in the second. As for Noam, we are going through a process together. I really like working with this group of guys which stopped for a short time recently. He has been working hard and he is trying to strengthen the areas that he is having a tough time with and for that he deserves a lot of credit.”

The game MVP Noam Avivi reflected on his performance, “The team needed me to do more due to the lack of available players. I played my game and I am happy that things turned out well, but really the most important thing was winning the game as a team. The fact that there are less imports allows for the Israelis to take center stage and there are enough quality Israelis that can take advantage of this opportunity. I feel that I have found a home at Hapoel Afula and the credit goes to the coach who believes in me.”

Up by the Carmel Mountain, Nes Ziona swamped Hapoel Haifa 111-82 as six players scored in double digits in a game that the Reds played with a short squad primarily made up of younger players. Tomer Levinson came close to recording a triple-double with 18 points, 15 rebounds and 6 assists, Rawle Alkins added 17 points while Zuf ben Moshe scored 15 points in the win. Mike McGuirl scored 35 points and Amit Gershon added 18 points in the loss.

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