Maccabi Rishon Le’Zion defeated Ratiopharm Ulm 96-92 in overtime to close out the club’s first EuroCup campaign with a hard earned victory. The hosts went up early but a big third quarter by the German squad led by NBA prospect Killian Hayes gave the visitors the advantage. But late fourth quarter heroics by Adam Ariel and Jordan Swing sent them game into overtime where James Kelly put the finishing touches on the comeback win. Kelly was the game’s high scorer with 27 points, Ariel added 18 points and Swing chipped in with 16 points for Rishon while Hayes led Ulm with 25 points.
James Kelley and Oz Blayzer helped Rishon jump out to a 16-10 lead midway through the first quarter as NBA prospect Killian Hayes kept Ulm in the game early on. The hosts continued to score with a pair of triples by Noam Dovrat as they went on a 13-0 run to end the frame up 24-12.
Blayzer and Adam Ariel bumped up the Rishon advantage but the insertion of Hayes saw the young guard deliver a perfect alleyoop to Gavin Schilling as Guy Goodes’s squad stayed in front 32-20 with 5:24 remaining in the second quarter. Hayes scored back to back baskets but Ariel drilled another 3-pointer to quell the Ulm run. But the visitors led again by Hayes cut the advantage to 44-37 after twenty minutes of action.
Hamilton and Dovrat put numbers up for Rishon to start the third quarter but Seth Hinrichs and Andreas Obst answered for Ulm as they cut the lead to just 1-point, 53-52 midway through the frame. Hayes and Tyler Harvey helped put Jaka Lakovic’s team ahead but Kelly used his muscle to keep Rishon close as Ulm grabbed 66-61 lead.
Patrick Heckmann and Obst hit triples to begin the fourth quarter while Hayes hit one as well to give Ulm a 79-69 lead with 3:23 remaining in regulation. Ariel and Jordan Swing went from deep, Kelly put down a dunk and Hayes was stripped of the ball as Swing drained another shot from long distance to cap off an 11-0 run and to pull to within 81-80 with 35 seconds on the clock. Harvey hit a pair of free throws but Ariel nailed a triple to send the game into overtime.
Kelly and Hamilton scored for Rishon to begin the extra session while the same Kelly scored two free throws and then added a throw down dunk to give Rishon the 96-92 victory.
1) This was a great game that had everything a basketball fan could ask for. Terrific action, an overtime thriller, clutch shooting, an NBA prospect with scouts and an assistant general manager in the stands and the list goes on and on and on. Both Ulm and Rishon came into the game with identical 1-8 records and it was a game that turned out to be the survival of the fittest. Comebacks on both sides, throughout the contest plus a couple of amazon individual performances by James Kelly and Killian Hayes. “I was more impressed and proud of the team as whole than I was with myself,” said Kelly. “We had another big Johnathan Williams who didn’t play today. Instead of looking at it as a difficulty we took it as a challenge.” Kelly, who is on a short term contract that ends within the next couple of weeks talked about giving his best during the time he’s with the team after playing well last season with Hapoel Gilboa/Galil, “Hopefully they extend it but I’m just here trying to play my best in that short period of time to help the team.” Rishon coach Guy Goodes was happy to end the EuroCup campaign on a high note, “We ended well with a win and eventhough we were missing a player or two we came out out on top. James Kelly really led the team all the way and it’s not simple. We had some times when we didn’t play well but we came back at the end.” About Kelly continuing with the team, “We have to make a decision as to if we will keep him or not but we don’t have the financial wherewithal as of now. Who will stay and who will go, we will have to decide that over the next week or so.”
2) Killian Hayes brought the Boston Celtics Assistant General Manager Michael Zarren back to Israel for the first time since 1989 as he spoke a bit of Hebrew that he picked up in Hebrew School when schmoozing after the game. Also in attendance was the Orlando Magic Director of Scouting Prosper Karangwa, who is also a fellow Montrealer as well as a scout from the Brooklyn Nets. What did they see? They got to witness a budding youngster who has no fear at all, can shoot the 3-pointer effortlessly as well as a point guard with fantastic vision. His fallbacks? Inexperience especially as Rishon came back at the end of the fourth quarter and in the overtime period, but he will learn from experience. His coach? The legendary point guard Jaka Lakovic who played for Panathinaikos and Barcelona and won the Euroleague title with the Spanish squad in 2010. Looks like Hayes has a great teacher as he readies for the jump to the NBA. “As a coach I always what more and I always want better. You have to look at the big picture here, he’s 18 years old and out of his homeland for the first time, his progress has been good but he has to learn to finish the game. We need to push and provoke him. He’s working on his shot on a daily basis and he’s a better shooter than people think while he still has big room to improve and he’s working hard. He’s making choices everyday when he comes in to work with his work ethic.” Rishon coach Goodes, who has seen many a good player complimented not only Hayes but Ulm for giving him the chance to show his wares, “I saw a super player. He was a floor general on the floor and we have to thank Ulm that gave him this opportunity. He is going to be a great player, but really the club has to get the credit for letting him play.” Kelly also commented about the protégé and indicated what quality he saw that Hayes possessed on the court, “Aggressiveness”
3) The other youngster who has been able to turn some heads in EuroCup play has been Noam Dovrat, the 17 year old who has been playing well beyond his years for Goodes. Although his numbers are nowhere near Hayes, Rishon has and will benefit from the minutes Dovrat has been getting at such a young age. His decision making will improve and so will his confidence. Coach Lakovic had kind words, “He has been a player that everybody has been following from the younger categories. He was a big part of the game, it’s a good team for him and he learns the most by playing in the games.” Goodes also was happy to be able to give Dovrat extra time this season, probably more than he had originally expected, “We were able to play Noam Dovrat more and more minutes which gave him more experience. We didn’t have a deep roster but we were able to make it through and these minutes will help the club as the season progresses.” Kelly also gave his take on Dovrat, “He has poise. When things get difficult he comes out and tries his best. He always gives 110% in practice and the game. That’s what he brings to the table, especially his energy.”
Hapoel Jerusalem fell to AEK in Athens 91-78 and fell out of first place in their Champions League Group B. The Reds stayed close throughout the contest but the hosts used a 23-12 final frame to take the victory. Howard Sant-Roos starred for the Athens based club with 18 points, 7 rebounds and 6 assists, Keith Langford added 18 points and Jonas Maciulis scored 16 points in the win. Tashawn Thomas led Jerusalem with 21 points and 9 rebounds.
Nes Ziona lost to Oradea 86-80 in FIBA Europe Cup play. Krisotpher Richard led the hosts with 31 points while Jeff Withey added 16 points for Nes Ziona in the defeat.