1) Now that was a fun game! Great passion and competitiveness from both squads for the entire 40 minutes with good shooting, timely passing and key free throw shooting as CJ Harris went 11/13 (21 points overall) from the stripe to notch the win for Holon. The game itself felt like it was a postseason clash rather than a preseason contest in every way. Sure there were a number of mistakes especially by Iftach Ziv with careless fouls near the end that allowed Holon to take the victory, but in reality it was a game that could have gone either way. Harris was thrilled with the win and was happy as to how the team was able to pull out the victory, “We stayed together and we played hard on defense, it was a very physical game. When it’s games like this we just want to stay together and keep fighting and at the end we were able to get ahead.” The shooting percentages were very high over the first thirty minutes but eventually exhaustion on both sides set in with Holon playing with a very short rotation as guards Yogev Ohayon and Oded Brandwein were both out of action due injuries but Harris knew what the secret to the team’s success was gong to be as the age headed to the wire, “We had to dig in. We knew we were coming short of some guards, and we had to play a lot of minutes. But we just kept fighting and that’s what we did.”
2) I really enjoy watching Holon play. They have a ton of solid shooters and are a threat to hit from downtown on every single possession. You just know that Isaiah Miles, Willy Workman, Chris Johnson, Harris and of course Tyrus McGee a scoring machine were going to get their points. In fact, I was talking to Gady Rabinowitz, Holon’s press officer and public address announcer up in the stands at the Drive In Arena and when McGee finally scored his first points of the game near the end of the first half we said it to each other at the same time and then I continued and said, don’t worry he’s good for another 12-14. I was wrong. McGee scored 15 points over the second half and was a key component to the victory. Another big part was Holon finally getting to the boards before Gilboa did in the 2nd half. The Galilee team controlled the rebounds over the first half and Stefanos Dedas’s squad was well aware as what they had to do in half number two, “We lost all the battles under the rim in the first half but we got better and better during the game. Physically we tried to match them even though they are very athletic. The players knew at the half that they were losing a lot of rebounds and I didn’t have to say anything at half-time. They knew what to do.”
3) Gilboa Galil is an excellent team and Lior Lubin has done a wonderful job in putting together a squad with solid big men and guards that can control the race of play. In time, Gilboa will win games like this one that got away from them he explained, “Our ability to close out a game is limited at this point but we will improve in time. I’m disappointed about the loss but there is a lot to learn.” The high points were seeing what kind of player Isaiah Cousins can be when out in the correct situation, one that he was not in last season in Jerusalem when he was only registered for the Champions League. Watching Cousins glide around the court, go to the basket and know how to play the game that we all thought he would be able to was just great to see. “I think Cousins was in a tough situation last year,” Lubin said. In general he was only in the European competition with Jerusalem and here he is in a totally different position. He’s still the same player and has a lot to offer.” Well, 18 points was plenty.
One other area that Lubin made sure to shore up was in the paint and with Jehyve Floyd (14p/6r) and Kerry Blackshear (13p7r). Both were excellent and were able to put their mark on the game as both are also very athletic and can face opponents to change up their shots as well. In addition to the pair Lubin also has other bigs that he can rely on, “We have Kerry and Floyd but we also have Benayahu Srur who didn’t play today and Yotam Hanochi who can help us in that aspect as well. With time Floyd will gel more as he has been with us for just one week.”
Lots to look forward to from both of these teams this season!