Maccabi Tel Aviv has rolled over their opponents one after the next this past week winning by their four games by a total of 105 points which was the amount they put up against Rishon Le’Zion. Due to winning those four games by a large margin, Ioannis Sfairopoulos was able to give many of the young Israeli players serious minutes including Dori Sahar (50 minutes/20 points), Eidan Alber (36 minutes/15 points) and Yonatan Attias (22 minutes/8 points). Yovel Zoosman was happy when I asked him about seeing the younger guys beginning to play a part in the team, just like he had done a few years ago when he was an up and coming stud, “I was like that just a few years ago and it’s great to see that and that I can act as a mentor for them. I was recently in their place and I experienced what they ate now going through as well as all of the small things, ups and downs and I want to help them as much as I can. It’s great that there is continuation and when they get the opportunity they have to take it with both hands. They have deserved the minutes they have received.”
As for Rishon, it really looked like Guy Goodes’s squad just wanted to make it through the game and get ready for Thursday’s State Cup clash against Hapoel Jerusalem. Is there concern that his team lost again? Probably. Was losing to Maccabi the worst thing in the world a few days before as Goodes called it, “the most important game of the week”? Not at all. The game that he really was upset about was losing to Nahariya last week. One thing that really stood out to me was not seeing Akil Mitchell go anywheres near the paint and go up against a twin towers of Ante Zizic and Othello Hunter who played many minutes together in what could have been preparation for Holon in their State Cup clash. Rishon and Mitchell have had Jerusalem’s number this season and I am sure we will see him mix it up inside where he usually makes his mark.
Gilboa Galil keeps on rolling as they knocked off Hapoel Jerusalem in a well played game that saw Yotam Hanochi really make his mark as he notched his career high in points with 19. Just last week he scored 11 points in a win over Maccabi in what Scottie Wilbekin had sarcastically described as if they had won the championship and they celebrated the same way after downing the Reds. And you know what? That’s A-OK. Let them enjoy and let them celebrate it just shows how strong they are as a team considering they just appointed Avishay Gordon as their head coach after Lior Lubin left for Panathinaikos to serve as Oded Katash’s assistant. Gilboa with Isaiah Cousins, Kerry Blackshear, Jehyve Floyd and Amit Gershon took care of a crumbling Jerusalem team who look like they may be a very easy out come Thursday’s State Cup semifinal.
“I think the second half we did not come with the right energy and we need to prepare for the State Cup semifinals. We need to be positive with each other and come tomorrow to talk and prepare for the game. If we continue to not be positive it won’t work.” Those were the words of Hapoel Jerusalem guard Tamir Blatt after yet another disappointing team performance under new head coach Dainius Adomaitis. It seems that the capital city reds are a complete mess since his arrival or perhaps Oded Katash’s departure. Something isn’t working to say the least and Tashawn Thomas who was such huge part of the team’s success has struggled mightily scoring only 6 points in the Galilee and losing listless doing so. J’Covan Brown has not being feeling well and who knows if he will be available for Thursday but Blatt’s words are very, very telling, “If we continue to not be positive it won’t work.” Sounds like there are some problems at Jerusalem that is definitely playing a part in their game play of late whether it was a loss against Hapoel Haifa or Rishon Le’Zion or Limoges. This season is falling apart quickly. Can they pull it together?
Nes Ziona’s Patrick Miller is an incredible player. Perhaps not the most talented guard in the world but the one who wants to win the most, play the hardest and simply put will his team to a win. With Brad Greenberg’s squad teetering against upstart Nahariya and down by 67-62 as time was clicking off of the clock, somehow, Miller and Nes Ziona dug in their heels deep and were able to find points and take the hard earned win for their fifth league win in a row to move their record to over .500 at 6-5. Miller was also the player who helped guide the team to the FIBA Europe Cup Round of 16 with his positive play and little engine that could attitude. Now in 7th place, Greenberg has steadied the ship and can now try to keep moving up the ladder.
Eilat has been very good this season, but Holon has been better. A true team to the work, Stefanos Dedas’s squad has been able to keep winning and winning and winning in every competition that his team is playing in. State Cup Final Four? Check. Balkan League Playoff Round? Check. Champions League Playoff Round of 16? Check. One after the next and with a huge game against Maccabi Tel Aviv waiting for them in the State Cup semifinals on Thursday there is talk that the club will pay a fine in order to register five foreign players to match the Yellow & Blue. Holon wants to level the playing field and should they do so, it will be a very, very interesting game.