ZIV WANTS TO PLAY
Iftach Ziv continues to do things right in the Israeli league as he scored 16 points, dished out 7 assists and grabbed 5 rebounds in a 104-73 win over Hapoel Galil Elyon. However, those numbers just don’t translate into Euroleague playing time for the point guard as he hasn’t stepped foot on the floor in continental action since February 2nd when yours truly saw him play 5:11 in a road victory over Valencia.
Is Ziv a good player? Yes. Is he a good enough Euroleague player? Apparently not in head coach Oded Katash’s books because if he was he would be playing a more significant role.
In total, Ziv has played in 4 games for a total of 27:49 minutes of game time. Many games he’s not even listed and overall his minutes have gone down from last year where he stepped on the court for 23 games under Giannis Sfairopoulos and Avi Even.
Ziv can score, he can hit his 3-pointers and can do everything right in Israeli league play. 8.8 points, 4.1 assists, 3.5 rebounds, 43.1% from downtown would indicate just that, but as we all know, the domestic league is not the Euroleague where every single play can be scrutinized over and over and over again.
If Ziv can’t cut it in the Euroleague then how can he get that playing time in order to cut it?
There is no question that Ziv has talent. There is no question that Ziv works hard. There is no question that he has proven that he can rise to the occasion. There is no question that he can continue to improve.
Does Ziv deserve the chance to play a significant role in Maccabi’s Euroleague campaign? One would think so.
But with only 8 games remaining and with the team sitting at 13-13 and the postseason in the balance, it’s hard to imagine Ziv getting any playing time in the Euroleague unless the yellow-and-blue get knocked out of playoff contention. And that is not even a guarantee.
It’s a pity that Ziv didn’t get the opportunity earlier in the season, because the chances of it happening now, well, is slim to none.
“I’m a professional,” Ziv said after earning MVP honors. “I have to be ready to go at any moment. I’m happy with every chance I get and I am here to help out. Do I deserve more credit? I work hard every practice and any chance I get I am here for the club. I’m friends with everyone in the lockerroom and I wish I got more playing time, I want it and I am waiting for it. It’s not simple and it’s tough to be in this position. My job is to play.”
Not only does he wish that he would get more playing time, Ziv said straight out that the situation he is in is not a simple one. Who could disagree?
“It’s part of the situation,” Katash said when asked about Ziv’s playing time. “If he is playing more or less doesn’t mean I believe in him any less, it’s a matter of managing a rotation. I’m really proud of him and I am happy when he gets into the game, he did a good job. I have no doubt that it’s not easy for him, it’s good that players want to play and contribute as that’s part of the deal.”
The bottom line is, a player wants to play and wants to play at the highest of levels.
Ziv wants to play and who can blame him?
HOLON VISIST LAST CHANCE SALOON
Hapoel Holon will visit Hapoel Jerusalem in a game that very well could decide the purples Basketball Champions League future for the season. A win by Guy Goodes’s team and Holon are still in play to take a spot in the Final 8, a loss and they can pack it up with a 0-4 record in Round of 16 group play and focus on the balance of the Israeli league.
It’s as simple as that.
For Jerusalem who sport a 2-1 record, a win will move them closer to locking up one of those Final 8 spots which will be yet another huge accomplishment for Aleksandar Dzikic’s team.
But there is a lot more on the line in this game for Goodes and he knows it. This is really it. Last chance saloon time for the continental campaign.
His team got blown apart in the capital city two weeks ago just before the International break in a league contest after having lost by the slimmest of margins to Jerusalem at home in their first BCL matchup.
Goodes is well aware that Jerusalem is probably the toughest team in Israel right now and he also knows that his roster is still a player or two short despite adding Manny Harris to the squad.
“He hasn’t played for three months and he barely was able to play 5 on 5 last week,” Goodes said of Harris. “We would I have liked to have him a couple of weeks ago, yes, but it is what it is, he can play a few minutes and give a player a break. We will have a full roster for the game on Tuesday and we will go to battle.”
Shawn Dawson, who has been playing his best ball in quite a while will certainly be able to and be counted on to pick up the slack against the State Cup holders who not only knocked off Maccabi Tel Aviv in the title game but also just went into the Drive In Arena and took out Hapoel Tel Aviv.
“This was a very important game for us to come back after the break as we have a crucial month ahead for us,” the swingman said after the win over Hapoel Haifa.
“We had a number of very tough losses last month so we needed this break to clean our heads and get ready for the big game that we have this coming Tuesday.”
Will Holon be able to find a way to take a win at Jerusalem?
As they say, time will tell.
NES ZIONA ALTERCATION
The last thing Elad Hasin wanted to have happen was a physical confrontation with arguably the most important player on his team and the one that conducts the orchestra in DJ Cooper.
But with 2.7 seconds left in the game, coach and player got into it on the bench and Cooper was sent to the showers as Nes Ziona fell for the 4th time in 5 Israeli league games, this time coming against Kiryat Ata up north where they lost 78-75 in a hard fought battle.
Hasin’s team has had issues of late and have experienced many ups and downs so far this season but they better find a way quickly to smooth things out or they will end up having to fight for a playoff spot that had looked like it had been sewn up long, long ago.
“We argued,” Hasin said after the game. “It’s part of our DNA. There was a play he did differently than I had wanted him to do, I yelled at him and he responded. It’s part of the emotions, he is a player on this team and has to understand his place. He’s a very important part of this team and has done a tremendous amount for the club It upset, he answered me and we will solve it tomorrow morning. Cooper needs to understand that he is not above this team.”
The word from veteran basketball journalist Eli Sahar is that Cooper will apologize to the team and the club will move on from there. It would be very difficult to replace Cooper at this point of the season and keeping the point guard will most probably be what will happen but this isn’t the first time there have been issues. Earlier in the season there was also an altercation with Raz Adam which seemed to have smoothed out but the question is how many more issues can Hasin and Nes Ziona take?
KIRYAT ATA’S IMPORTANT WIN
As for Kiryat Ata, Sharon Avrahami is as happy as a pig in mud without a doubt. The bench boss has won his 6th game this season and all but assured that the club will play in the top league once again nest season.
All campaign long, Kiryat Ata has played competitive, solid basketball game in game out, but there were unfortunately a number of games that they just came up short in for one reason or another. With 4 imports, veterans but a very short bench, Avrahami has really maximized the squad that he does have.
In his team’s 78-75 win over Nes Ziona, the game could have very easily gone the other way but Diante Garrett being Diante Garrett and the winner that he is, scored the winning bucket to notch the hard earned victory. Nes Ziona went up by 10-points after the first half, but Avrahami’s crew came right back to eventually take the win.
“I broke a play board at halftime and that helped,” Avrahami said after the game. “We were awfully bad in the first half but any game that we gave up under 80 points we have won. That was the case yet again. No one believes in us in every game we play, I am proud of the guys. We come into every game and are right there. Some were stolen away from us right at the end and it hurts but I know that we are playing good basketball. We deserved this important win.”
Yes you did Sharon, yes you did.