The last time Maccabi Tel Aviv & Hapoel Holon met: Revisiting the 2018 State Cup & Glen Rice Jr.

Feb 10, 2021 | Holyland Hoops

Hapoel Holon will face Maccabi Tel Aviv in a classic knockout battle in the Israel State Cup semifinal on Thursday night (21:10) at the DriveIn Arena in Tel Aviv. Both teams easily moved into the Final Four as Holon downed Maccabi Hod Hasharon 90-50 and Hapoel Acre 87-67 from the Leumit League and then Maccabi Haifa 96-88 from the first division. Maccabi Tel Aviv had a bit of trouble against Maccabi Ashdod 75-69 but had no problems with Hapoel Haifa beating the Carmel Reds 98-73 while finally moving into the semis by cruising by Hapoel Tel Aviv 83-66.

The upcoming clash will be the third meeting of the season between the teams and interestingly enough they’ll play once again on Sunday in league action. The first game went to Holon 79-76 in Israeli league play while the second went to Maccabi 86-84 to capture the Winner Cup. That score itself brings back memories of the last time the two squads tipped off in State Cup action.

The 2017/18 season saw the clubs battle it out in the State Cup Final in what would end up being one of the most hotly contested clashes in many years as both teams left it all out on the court trying to hoist the trophy. Maccabi’s roster included 2x NBA Champion Norris Cole, Alex Tyus, Deshaun Thomas, Pierre Jackson, Michael Roll, Itay Segev, John DiBartolomeo, DeAndre Kane has Jake Cohen. Holon were led by Glen Rice Jr., Guy Pnini, Shlomi Harush, Tu Holloway, Joe Alexander, Hanan Colman, Tashawn Thomas, Tamir Blatt and TJ Cline who just signed with Maccabi and may make his Yellow & Blue debut against his former team.

The game itself didn’t disappoint and the fans saw a close contest that ended in Holon lifting the Cup with a 86-84 win thanks to Rice’s 28 points as he scored the winner with just 1.6 seconds left as he fell to the floor in the key to take the title.

There were a number of interesting facts from the matchup:
The biggest lead over the course of the game was just 8-points by Holon, while Maccabi’s largest was 6-points.
There were 14 lead changes between the teams.
Guy Pnini who signed with Holon at the start of the season won his 11th straight State Cup.
This was the closest State Cup game since the 2008/09 season in which Holon also won at the last second when Brian Tolbert hit a game winning 3-pointer.
caption id=”attachment_29339″ align=”aligncenter” width=”2560″] Holon celebrates: Photo Credit: Sports Rabbi[/caption]
We spoke to some of the principals who took part in the game from both teams and here’s what we got from them:

Michael Roll who missed the last shot of the game as he looked to send the contest into overtime, still feels the pain of the loss, “Still hurts to this day so I’m not going to mention anything about it.”

Photo Credit: IBBA

Itay Segev would rather look back to the league final from that season, “There’s not much to say, it was very disappointing. We had prepared for Rice a lot in anticipation of the game but he’s a very talented player and Holon was a terrific team. As for this season, I’m sure it will be a great game as these are two quality teams. I wish both of them the best of luck.”

Neven Spahija was the coach for the yellow-and-blue back then, “No words about that final and Glen Rice.”

Holon’s captain who lifted the Cup at the end of that evening back in 2018 Shlomi Harush reminisced about the victory, “The minute you arrive at the arena you know that you are playing for a title and there is so much excitement surrounding the game. For any team other than Maccabi Tel Aviv it’s a big deal because you never know when the next time will be that you’ll be able to have a chance to in the Cup. So you have to appreciate the excitement of the moment.”

Shlomi Harush – Photo Credit: IBBA

“We controlled the entire game and led for the most part in what was one of our best showings. We were a very good team. There was a lot of emotions and we felt that we could win the game and take the title. I’m happy that is what happened because it will be something that will be with all of us for a lifetime.

“When Glen took that shot, when the ball was in his hands, we all knew where it was going. It’s an incredible feeling when everyone knows that it’s all going forward him. I was on the bench and was ready to jump onto the court the second the the ball would go into the basket. I knew it was going in. It was absolutely amazing.”

Those were the comments from today, but let’s now take a look back at the quotes from immediately after the game that was filled with emotions on both sides.

Glen Rice Jr. – Photo Credit: Sports Rabbi

The star of the show Glen Rice Jr. had this to say about his big shot to win the game, “We had to win. I was lucky that we were going to overtime even if we missed because we weren’t down one. The pressure wasn’t that great. I knew we had overtime.”

Joe Alexander was happy to down his former club, “Getting the Cup is huge. Getting it against the team that told me to get lost; that’s big too.”

Guy Pnini – Photo Credit: IBBA

Guy Pnini who moved from Maccabi to Holon before the season was focussed in winning yet another Cup, “It‘s a really sweet win, it’s a special moment with a lot of emotions. I didn’t look for anyone after the game, I just wanted to celebrate and I am happy that we are able to win this at a place like Holon.”

As for Maccabi, most of the players were busy complaining about the officiating, Norris Cole, who had one a couple of NBA titles spoke about the referees but also about Holon‘s accomplishment, “Both teams competed hard and it was a tough game. There were things that happened out there that shouldn’t have on behalf of the officials. I don’t want to take anything away from Holon, but the referees did some things that they should be ashamed of…The refs controlled everything and we couldn’t play competitive basketball. The players need to dictate the game. The Israeli officiating is terrible.”

Glen Rice and DeAndre Kane – Photo Credit: Sports Rabbi

De‘Andre Kane who had a tough time stopping Rice all game long was outraged at the refs, “The refs are terrible, we’re tired of it, we just want to play basketball. We go out there and compete hard. Holon competed hard. It was a great game and the refs don’t have to dictate the game. It’s ridiculous.”

“We can’t win against 8 people. Give them credit but we can’t win with the refs. One guy shoots 14 free throws more than almost our whole team. They don’t call a foul. It’s tough for us. We go out and play hard, it’s frustrating, every game.

“Every game in the Israeli league you’ve got to kill some one for them to call the foul. Right now they are cheating. Point blank, period. They are cheating. There’s nothing else to say.”

Hopefully both semifinals will provide some entertaining and quality basketball, but obviously the fans will be missing. However, this type of game will always be a battle right to the end as the winner will look to take one last step in a few months to lift the State Cup.

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