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Starting 5: Haifa’s Workman on Upshaw’s Heroics, HTA Jordan Davis Gamer, Wigginton & Limonad for Nes Ziona, Ziv & Thomasson for HGG, Plus the Playoff Picture!

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Reggie Upshaw (25 points) has had quite the Israel experience so far. The Middle Tennessee product has been shooting the ball quite well from two by hitting over 65% of his shots but his long distance shooting has been, well atrocious at a shade under 19%. With the game hanging in the balance and Ashdod up 92-90, Upshaw launched a triple with 1:37 remaining in the contest and missed, bringing his shooting from deep on the day to 0/5. For the rest of the story I’ll turn this over to Greens Captain Willy Workman who will walk you through what Upshaw did next, “It was a very gutty performance by Reggie. I think the biggest shot of the game was Reggie’s 3-pointer. He was about 0/5 from 3 and didn’t have his best day shooting the ball. He missed a three, we got a rebound and kicked it back out to him at the exact same spot. 5 seconds later he shot again and he swished it and were won the game. There’s not many guys that shoot that shot, much less make it.” Thanks Willy for that. Now before you go, can you sum up what type of player Reggie Upshaw is? “You gotta love the way he plays the game as he is always moving, always defending and always rebounding the ball.”

Jordan Davis is a gamer, plain and simple. The Hapoel Tel Aviv guard was spectacular with 26 points in a tough battle with Hapoel Eilat. The turning point of the contest came early in the 4th quarter when Davis went up for a bucket and was cut down by Jordan Caroline in rough, rough foul that as called an unsportsmanlike foul as well. Davis crashed down the floor hard, very hard we thought he had broken his hand, shoulder perhaps his entire body. When he eventually got up he was in pain, but that didn’t stop him from taking the free throws and then singlehandedly will Coach Ioannis Kastritis’s squad to the victory in a 21-4 final frame with 11 points of his own. “I’m in a bit of pain with my shoulder but I’m happy with the win,” said Davis at the postgame press conference. “My parents wired me to play as long as any part of y body is falling off, if not then you play. That’s how I was raised if I can play I’m going to play. We knew they had a lot of talented guys and it was going to be a dogfight and everyone wanted to get a spot to go to the Final 4.” Coach Kastritis also spoke about how the club is a bit banged up but hadn’t wanted to discuss the issue beforehand and use it as an excuse, “We have had problems for a few weeks and everyone must know that our players have played with many injuries. Game by game and practice by practice injures are getting worse. The players sacrifice their bodies for the team. We have to get ready for Nahariya and I am sure the staff will get the players prepared.”

Nes Ziona picked up a huge victory up north at Nahariya in what was a nail bitter and a must win for really both teams if they had any designs on advancing to the playoffs. Veteran guard Raviv Limonad was tremendous in a turn back the clock game but Lindell Wigginton set the table in the 4th quarter scoring his team’s first 8 points of the frame as he continues adjust to Israeli basketball. The Canadian guard told The Sports Rabbi, “We just stuck with it. Through the ups and downs in the game we stayed mentally tough & that helped us come out on top. Me, I just stay confident and stay ready when my numbers called no matter the circumstances.” The Sports Rabbi also had the opportunity to host Wigginton on the Holy Land Hoops Show and you can listen to the show by clicking on this link. Once again Nadav Zilberstein was able to pull off the win, the team’s second in row with Maccabi Ashdod coming up on Friday and then the last game at Hapoel Gilboa Galil which will be huge for Nes Ziona. It will be an interesting final week for sure with so many critical games at stake and rumors swirling around about the future of Zilberstein at the helm.


Gilboa Galil received yet another tremendous game from Joe Thomasson who has turned it on big time for Lior Lubin’s team, but don’t overlook Israeli guard Iftach Ziv who put in a spectacular performance with 21 points, 7 boards, 6 assists and 5 steals. I’ve always believed that Ziv who is averaging 10.7 points per game this season which ranks him 9th overall for Israelis, has been underrated by most teams and can be a an asset Boone of the top teams in the country when given the proper chance. He has been a rock for Gilboa Galil all campaign and once again showed his worth on the grand stage as the team clinched a playoff spot.

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Let’s take a look at what we have over the final two gamedays and which teams will get into the playoffs and who won’t. Haifa and Gilboa are in the playoffs the question is how will finish in 5th place and who in 6th because the 5th place team will get a weak Hapoel Holon squad who’ll end up in 4th place. Haifa hosts Gilboa on Friday and then head to Beer Sheva on Monday while Gilboa host Nes Ziona on the final gameday. Nes Ziona who are now in 7th will play last place Ashdod on Friday while the other team that still has to play the port city squad is Hapoel Tel Aviv who are in 8th place and will also host Nahariya on Saturday night. Nahariya will welcome Eilat on Monday as the Reds Sea City team will host Beer Sheva on Friday. The two teams who are in the drivers seat are Nes Ziona and Hapoel Tel Aviv as they are not only in 7th and 8th place respectfully they also get to play Ashdod who have yet to win a game since the season resumed a couple of weeks ago. It will be a very tall task for Nahariya, Beer Sheva and Eilat to get into the playoffs especially after their results yesterday and will need Ashdod to somehow pull off at least one win to crack open the door for them to get into the postseason. The way I see it for the quarterfinals is as follows: Maccabi Tel Aviv vs Hapoel Tel Aviv, Hapoel Jerusalem vs Nes Ziona, Maccabi Rishon Le’Zion vs Hapoel Gilboa Galil, Hapoel Holon vs Maccabi Haifa if the pattern holds. But of course, that is why you play the games. So we shall see, don’t count Nahariya, Beer Sheva or Eilat just yet, Ashdod is ripe to play spoiler.

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