Hapoel Eilat has built a great team as we’ve mentioned a number of times already with a great mix of veterans and youngsters both Israeli and foreign. One of the newcomers is rookie center Josh Nebo who has been spectacular and put up a nice double-double this past week in a 2-point win. The big man is averaging 13.3 points and 7.8 rebounds in over 27 minutes per game and had the #1 play of the week with a monster jam! Those are crazy numbers for a first year player let alone in Israel! Nebo spoke to The Sports Rabbi about they club’s success and his as well, “This was a well balanced team effort. We shot the ball well and shared the ball well as a team. We also did a good job of competing on defense. As for myself, I’ve felt good as first year pro. Every game I’m getting more comfortable with the style of play.”
Hapoel Jerusalem is short, very short and we’re not talking about height. I’m talking about the length of the roster. So many players are injured but somehow they are still winning. They do have two more games this week and those will be challenges. Chris Kramer was one of the seven who played serious minutes in the past win over Hapoel Tel Aviv. With four players chalking up over 30 minutes and with two more games to come in the next six days, how will the Reds cope with it all? “I think it just comes down to our conditioning. We worked hard to get to this point. These games we have to win whatever it takes. 5,6,7 guys it’s whatever it takes. We need to recover now towards next game,” explained Kramer. “It will be tough for sure. We are professionals. We need to eat right. We need adequate sleep and give our bodies the best go for the next games in the next four of five days. Your mind is so much stronger than our bodies. The last game against Holon will be a big mental test for us.”
Hapoel Gilboa Galil is 4-0. Yes you read right 4-0 so far this young season. It was clear from the get go that Lior Lubin’s squad was good, actually very good with a mix of high quality foreign players along with solid young Israelis who all have passion and fight on the court for the entire 40 minutes of every game. One of Lubin’s players who took the bull by the horns from the get against Holon was Netanel Artzi who scored 16 for half points and equalled his career high of 21 for the game. Artzi slashed to the bucket, took confident shots and look like the complete player that we knew he could be. The 23-year old averaged just 6.6 points per game last season and this campaign he’s doubled that average chalking up 13.8 points while noting double digits in the last three games. If Artzi can continue this clip he will definitely take the jump that has been expected of him which will be great for not only his club but Israeli basketball as a whole. “This game was a lot of fun and I’m happy that we won. As for hitting my career high in points, I only realized at the end of the game. The points don’t interest me as much, but won’t lie that I am happy that I am improving and advancing.”
Coach Sfairopoulos’s Maccabi Tel Aviv squad made some poor plays down the stretch against Bnei Herzliya but pulled it together in the extra session to notch the win which is both good and bad. Good in the sense they were able to get the win, bad that as the bench boss described Maccabi relaxed. “We made some mistakes both offensively and defensively at the end of regulation that gave Herzliya the chance to take the game into overtime. But we were more determined and we need to learn not to relax as we gave them a chance to get back into the game.” This really opens up the more serious question if Maccabi plays at the same intensity in both the Israeli league and the Euroleague. Sfairopoulos wanted no part of that query, “Israeli league is tough and we play with the same intensity, I can’t say that we don’t. We controlled the game until the 28th minute and we made some mistakes but that’s normal as they took tough shots and brought the game closer.”
Hapoel Haifa continued their hot start as they defeated Nes Ziona and this is a take of two teams. The Carmel Reds have been a surprise package this young season due to solid play from the entire squad from the foreigners in Jason Siggers and Keenan Evans to the Israelis like Amit Simhon and Egor Nestrenko, plus Elad Hasin has proven that he is a really good coach. On the other end of the spectrum is Nes Ziona who have struggled and are already making personnel changes as Jordan Murphy and Davion Berry are out and new players will be coming in which is certainly not the start of the season Brad Greenberg had envisioned. But it’s going to take time to solve the issues which have been identified.