1) The Israel National Basketball Team fell to Georgia in Tel Aviv, 85-80 to open the second phase of 2019 World Cup Qualifying. Toko Shengelia had a terrific game as the Baskonia forward scored 22 points and 9 rebounds, Duda Sanadze dropped 17 points going 5/7 from beyond the arc, while sharp shooter Matt Janning drilled home 15 points (5/10 from 3-point land) and NBA prospect Goga Bitadze scored 13 points and pulled down 9 boards in the victory. Yovel Zoosman who was part of the Under-20 side that won the European Championship this summer had a stellar game for the Blue & White 14 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists, Jake Cohen added 14 points, 4 boards and 4 helpers while Itay Segev chipped in with 13 points and Tamir Blatt scored 12 points (3/10 from the field) and dished out 10 assists in the defeat. Georgia went 16/37 (!) from 3, scoring 11 treys after twenty minutes of play while also out-rebounding Israel 38-31 and 17-9 on the offensive glass which resulted in 26 second chance points for the visitors.
Georgia took a 3-point lead after 10 minutes 26-23 Georgia as Shengelia was an absolute beast with draining 13 points going 5/8 (3/4 from 3-pt land) from the field. Jake Cohen led Israel with 7 points after the first frame. Georgia increased their lead to a dozen points at the half taking a 47-39 advantage into the break. Shengelia may have been quiet for Georgia in the 2nd frame but Sanadze picked up the slack ending with 11p (3/4 from 3) in the half. Adam Ariel who had just joined the Israel squad as an injury replacement hit three 3’s for 9 points after twenty minutes.
Israel came out like a house on fire in the 3rd quarter going on a 20-6 run to take 57-55 lead midway through the frame and remained in front by 3 points after 30 minutes, 68-65 thanks to inspired play by Blatt, Cohen, Segev and Zoosman. However, in the decisive quarter, Sanadze hit a pair of crucial 3 pointers while Blatt committed a critical turnover with 7 seconds remaining and Israel down by only 3, 83-80 and a chance to tie up the contest. But instead of drawing even with a potential game tying 3-pointer, Shegelia scored an easy layup for a 85-80 win.
2) Hapoel Beer Sheva and Beitar Jerusalem continue to wheel and deal players between each other as Dan Einbinder moved from the Southern side to the capital as Arik Sabo made the same move but in the other direction.
3) Maccabi Tel Aviv BC headed to Cyprus for a preseason tournament they will meet Panathinaikos, AEK Athens, Khimki Moscow. Head Coach Neven Spahija spoke about the fact that the team will be without its full squad as well as having a fire group of players to work with from the start of the season:
“It helps to have a core and we didn’t change 12 players. We know what we can count on. You will see the real Maccabi beginning from the Zadar tournament in Croatia.”
Johnny O’Bryant III also commented about the upcoming preseason competition:
“We have some great players and a great coach. I’m excited to start playing some games with these guys. We just want to get our game legs under us, get some team chemistry and get ourselves going a bit.”
4) Israel Basketball Preseason Games
A) Josh Owens led all scorers with 18 points along with 11 rebounds although that wasn’t enough as Hapoel Holon defeated Hapoel Jerusalem 72-64 in a shortened preseason game (8 minute quarters) due to many absent players wither ti injury or National Team duty. Holon dominated the game from the tip making it difficult for Jerusalem to come back the whole night as Khalif Wyatt led Dan Shamir’s side by scoring 15 points and adding 9 assists.
B) Ironi Nahariya beat Bnei Herzliya who were also missing several players due to injury and National Team duty. Myke Henry was outstanding with 22 points to lead all scorers as Jeff Adrien led Herzliya with 15 points. The game was stopped during the fourth quarter after Jeff Adrien fouled out leaving leaving Herzliya without any remaining bigs. Herzliya chairman Eldad Akunis requested that he continue to play despite being fouled out, however, the referees refused. Akunsis then decided to take his team off the floor and the contest came to a premature end.
C) Maccabi Rishon Le’Zion continued to roll through the preseason undefeated thanks to a 92-74 victory over Ironi Ness Ziona. Egor Koulechov from Rishon came out on fire from the 3-point line going 7/11 and finished the game with 31 points. Koulechov wasn’t the only contributor as Deshawn Stephens added 22 points in the win moving their record to 4-0.
Quick Hits – Kiryat Shemona sign Albanian attacking midfielder Valon Ahmedi who played with Maribor and Lithuanian keeper Džiugas Bartkus who had been with Zalgiris…Rhythmic gymnast Linoy Ashram won a bronze medal in Ribbon at the World Championships…