Hapoel Holon defeated Oostende 78-72 to win their Basketball Champions League Play In Series 2-1 and punch their ticket to the Round of 16 Group Stages. In game three that was held in Szombathely, Hungary, the purples jumped out to an early lead with CJ Harris and Deondre Burns spurring Amit Sherf’s team on while Justin Smith was overpowering in the second half to close out the victory.
Next week, Holon will continue their Champions League journey as they will play in a group with UCAM Murcia from Spain, AEK Athens and Prometheas Patras both from Greece.
Smith scored 28 points and 9 rebounds, Harris added 16 points and 8 assists while Burns scored 10 points in the win. Damien Jefferson scored 23 points while Khalil Ahmad and Pierre-Antoine Gillet scored 13 points each in the loss.
“I am proud of the club and the organization,” Sherf said. “The fact that we played in the first round is something that we can’t take for granted. Management decided to go for it and our target was still to go to the Top 16. They gave us all of the tools. We may have been more nights in hotels that at home and we have been flying back and forth constantly. From the first game against Bonn we showed that we deserved to be in the Round of 16.”
“It’s a bitter feeling became I think we could have done better,” Oostende coach Dario Gjergja spoke about the game. “What cost us was probably the first quarter. We didn’t want them to run on us and let then take advantage of turnovers. We stayed there in the third quarters fought and took a lead but couldn’t keep the pace. The points by Smith cost us a lot.”
Game MVP Justin Smith spoke about the win, ”I’m really proud of our team’s collective effort, especially after how we played last game where we had things going against us. We wanted to have our energy in this game and we really needed or fans so we were happy that a few were here with us. We were desperate coming into this one as we really, really, really wanted to win this game. Everyone who stepped on the floor stuck to the game plan.”
Oostende’s Khalil Ahmad also spoke about the game that was, “It was a tough one and we had a lot of turnovers during critical moments when we needed a bucket and it was just tough to get one.”
CJ Harris and Deondre Burns had the hot hands for Hapoel Holon to begin the game, Pierre-Antoine Gillet and Jean Salumu answered but points from deep by Yotam Hanochi and Drew Crawford gave the hosts a 24-14 lead after ten minutes of action. Salumu and Gillet got to work in the second quarter to begin to cut down the lead but Harris and Burns kept Amir Sherf’s team in front 38-32 at halftime.
Justin Smith and Netanel Artzi opened up the third quarter with points, Damien Jefferson and Gillet responded but a 3-point play by Crawford kept Holon ahead 55-51 after thirty minutes of action. Khalil Ahmad and Jefferson scored for Oostende but Smith came back with points a plenty for the hosts, Ahmad inched the visitors closer, Shawn Dawson scored his first points of the game while Smith continued to score at will to take the win and advance to the Round of 16 group stages.