“We owed the fans” McGee, Ragland, Johnson and Pnini all look back at the Holon championship

Jun 10, 2022 | Holyland Hoops

The 21/22 season has come to an end as Hapoel Holon swept Bnei Herzliya 2-0 in the finals as the purples captured the league title for the second time in their history and the first time that they were able to lift the championship plate on their home court.

For some, becoming the champion of Israel was only a dream and for others it was a reality that was attainable. Thanks to a mix of Israelis and Americans, veterans and youngsters, Holon supporters were able to celebrate through the night with their heroes as they all can now proudly say that they are champs.

Chris Johnson – Photo Credit: Dov Halickman

For veteran Chris Johnson, winning the title was a goal when he arrived at Holon, “It feels good. Coming to Holon this was one of things I spoke about with Yogi (former teammate Yogev Ohayon who he was with in Jerusalem). I said I want to win a championship here in Holon and here we are.”

“Going into the BCL Final 4 gave us a boost with momentum and we stayed focused during the playoffs and now we are champs. For me it’s different this time. I won a cup with Jerusalem, but I didn’t feel I was part of it because I was hurt. But this team is very special. We are in awe from it. We did it for Holon we did it for our team. We are just excited right now.”

Final series Most Valuable Player Joe Ragland didn’t dwell on wining the award but was much happier to be a part of a team that took the title, “Winning the MVP doesn’t mean much. The championship is what’s special being a part of this. We got it done for the fans. It definitely feels good. It was a hard fought season and we found a way to get it done. We had to be aggressive and keep playing. We found a way to attack and got it done.”

Guy Pnini – Photo Credit: Dov Halickman

Captain Guy Pnini who captured his fourth Israel League title was overwhelmed with joy as he was able to hoist the championship plate with his Holon teammates in what was an emotional moment, “It feels great and it’s a relief. We had done everything here at Holon aside from this. It was important for me to win this title and celebrate at home with our fans.”

The veteran also spoke about how the championship is viewed when winning with Holon compared to the three he took with Maccabi Tel Aviv along with talking about his future, “I am in a stage in my career that you don’t know when you can win more championships. It’s not my last year, I’ll continue to play and I hope it will be here in Holon. It depends on me if I want to win. It’s different to win here vs. winning with Maccabi. In Maccabi it’s a relief and here there is a big celebration. It’s the second time for the club and the entire city is behind us.”

Su Braimoh and Hayden Dalton – Photo Credit: Sports Rabbi

Hayden Dalton who joined the team mid-season looked as if he would not be an integral part of the club due to having seven imports and only five are allowed to polar at once. However, due to circumstances including matchups and an injury to Steve Zack, Dalton grabbed the opportunity he had with both hands and was a huge part in winning the championship.

“I can’t put it into words. I played on 3 different teams this season and I never thought I would be here. I’m thankful to God, my coaches and teammates. I didn’t even think I’d be playing. I’m just glad the team trusted me. Everyone is so happy and it means a lot to them I’m happy to be apart of it. Ragland is the heart and Chris as well. Without them we are nothing.”

Amit Sherf – Photo Credit: Dov Halickman

Holon’s assistant coach Amit Sherf has been with the team for quote some time and saw the franchise take it stops towards this championship over the last number of years.

“It’s crazy. In this playoff we felt we were the best team. Aside from the State Cup semifinals against Herzliya we showed up to every game that was important. We wanted to beat Herzliya for what had happened in the cup and we did it. Herzliya was the strongest team in the league for a big part of the season but this is a great closure to the campaign.”

Finally, Tyrus McGee who returned to the club during the middle of the season after having been part of the squad last year looked at the victory as something he owed the fans, “It feels great. I owed them (the Holon fans) and we owed them this. This year here we are as champions.”

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