Stoll steals show in return for Franco and Hapoel TLV as Hasin and Haifa challenge officiating in Drive-In foulfest

Mar 21, 2022 | Holyland Hoops

It was set up to be a classic matchup between two teams battling for a spot in the upper half of the standings and a guaranteed place in the playoffs. Both clubs made moves to strengthen their rosters with veteran guard Paul Stoll arriving in Israel for Hapoel Tel Aviv to replace an injured J’Covan Brown without missing a beat while Haifa brought in NBA tested James Ennis who can fill into a multitude of positions.

What we got was a rough and tumble matchup between a pair of aggressive teams as Danny Franco’s Tel Aviv bested Elad Hasin’s Carmel Reds 92-71 in a game that was also perhaps influenced by the referees who called no less than 48 fouls which translated into 61 free throws over the course of the 40 minutes. In fact, the final frame itself saw 28 free throws alone thanks to 17 fouls.

This of course didn’t please the coach who was on the short end of the stick. Hasin made sure to let the entire basketball world know where he stood with the questionable officiating especially when his team lost both Spencer Weisz to a face injury along with Will Rayman who picked up an unsportsmanlike and technical foul sending him to the showers much earlier than anticipated.

Elad Hasin – Photo Credit: FIBA

“I was in the same situation two weeks ago (at Holon when the hosts shot 43 FTs) and no one likes the way the game was played with so many trips to the line,” a red-hot Hasin exclaimed. “The amount of fouls were very lopsided. The refs saw that the foul (on Weisz) was a flagrant and now I have a player in the hospital now with a split lip. Their player should have been thrown out. It’s hard to win when a team goes to the line 40 times and it also hurts the fan experience. They will say that I am a crybaby and so be it. But 40 times on the line, it can’t be.”

It wasn’t quite 40 but the one gets the idea as to how Hasin saw the game which had been 42-42 at halftime slip away uncontrollably over the final ten minutes of play.

On one hand, Hasin has a beef with the refs. Big man James Dickey was charged with two early fouls after scoring as pair of baskets to open the game and there were certainly times where the zebras led by Euroleague official Seffi Shemesh lost control of the contest. However, Haifa also had a dozen free throws in the last quarter and overall left 8 points on the line plus only went 7/24 from beyond the arc and 17/41 inside of it for atrocious percentages.

“For one of the teams they didn’t blow the whistle,” Hasin continued. “Paul Stoll knows how to make all of the right plays to not get a foul. If Gil Beni gets a couple of early fouls that will change the way he will defend for the rest of the game. We made fouls, but not where 40 times a team will go to the line. They don’t blow the whistle like this in Greece. James Young 17 times on the line and Ennis gets no respect? He’s not as good as him?”

James Young – Photo Credit:

As for Franco’s troops it was clear that Young who made a busload of trips to the charity stripe and Bar Timor who scored close to his career high with 21 points were critical in the win, but it was the newly acquired Paul Stoll to “stole” the show. In 28 minutes, the new /old guard chalked up 10 points and 5 assists and looked as if he had remained in Red since the end of last season and really ran the offense to perfection without J’Covan Brown available.

It was as if Franco had received Manna from heaven and exactly what the doctor had ordered.

Danny Franco – Photo Credit: Dov Halickman

“This is the time of the season that all of the teams want to make a splash and bring in a new player to strengthen their roster. When I first spoke to Stoll he asked if he was to get ready to defend against Gregory Vargas,” Franco said with a smile.

“When you bring a player that knows what it’s like to play here and that this was going to be a critical game, we thought it was a great opportunity. I’m happy that he played as well as he did. I threw a lot at him over the last couple of days and I am happy that he was able to handle all of that and help us to the win.”

Idan Zalmanson – Photo Credit:

Big man Idan Zalmanson also commented on how seamlessly Stoll fit into the team’s chemistry, “ J’Covan is definitely missing, but I haven’t seen such a quick integration and he has so much positive energy. It’s as if he has been with us from the start of the season. He didn’t miss a beat and wants to really help the club succeed. I’m happy he is with us.”

With the win, Hapoel moved into 5th place with a record of 11-10 which moves them very close to making sure they don’t have top battle it out for a playoff spot in the third round. However, Franco was very clear that his team hasn’t done nothing yet, “We aren’t there just yet and we need to win another game to get there. We can never determine the timing of injuries and these things aren’t in our hands. But I will say this, Hapoel this time around is different than other times that I have been here. There is no panic and no stress. We all want to do well and we will try to do just that. If we don’t get to the top six then we will have to go to the final from the 7th place.”

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