1) How about JP Tokoto recording a triple-double with 18 points, 15 rebounds and 11 assists! You don’t see triple-doubles much in Europe they are rare and if happen to see one live and in person it’s a super treat. Sure, in the NBA there are plenty and I saw one my Pau Gasol about a decade ago when he was with the Los Angeles Lakers, but I had never seen one yet in Israel. Thanks to Tokoto and I was able to check that off of my bucket list in a game that was much closer than anticipated against an Ashdod team that had already been relegated. Tokoto spoke about the accomplishment, “I didn’t know until the end of the game. I played a lot of minutes today and I stuffed the stat sheet but the most important thing was coming out of the game with a win. It’s pretty cool to have a triple double. I knew I had 8 rebounds because coach told me at the half and said he needed more out of me so I focused on the boards. But the assists come from my teammates, guys knocking down shots and being in the right place.” Tokoto’s coach Nadav Zilberstein spoke about his performance as well, “He struggled at the start and he had a tough time to get into the flow but the last two games he has been great and is an anchor for us. Whether it’s decision making, his defense and energy that he brings to the team. I’m very happy for him because he had a tough time and although I don’t expect that he will record another triple-double, but I am sure he will be able to aid us in many aspects and help the team win.”
2) Adam Ariel was hotter than hot in Rishon Le’Zion’s win over Hapoel Holon. 28 points, 6/10 from 3, and 4/6 from 2 and you had the Ariel of old, the one that shoots the lights out, but also the Ariel that we hadn’t seen up until now since the basketball league came back from the coronavirus break. But this is the Adam Ariel that I know, the one who is just lethal from deep and who plays with the ultimate confidence and guile. The Sports Rabbi had a long interview with Ariel during the break which you can read here and it gives you an insight into the player who dreams if one day playing in the Euroleague. There’s no question that Ariel can succeed and if he can continue shooting the ball like he did against Holon there’s no reason to think that he can’t make it to the beat league in the continent. Ariel’s teammate Zach Hankins had this to say about the sharpshooter, “Everyone on the team was ecstatic last night watching him. We all have confidence in him and the work he’s put in to being such a great shooter, but he’s had this block since we’ve started up. So seeing him just play and have fun and hit those shots was awesome. It’s great for the team to have him at the top of his game while we’re moving towards the end of the regular season and into playoffs when we need it most.”
3) Beer Sheva found a way to stay alive in a tough road game at Hapoel Eilat and are still in the running for a playoff spot if they can win at home against Maccabi Haifa and Nes Ziona loses at Hapoel Gilboa Galil. And that may yet happen. One of coach Rami Hadar’s signings during the break was Amir Bell, who just also happened to be a teammate of captain Spencer Weisz when the two played at Princeton and won the Ivy League Championship as well. Bell has played huge minutes as a defensive stopper for Beer Sheva was proved he can score as well as he checked in with 19 points, 4 rebounds and 5 assists for a 27 efficiency rating. The Sports Rabbi had the chance to host Bell on Holy Land Hoops and you can listen to that by clicking on this link. Bell didn’t want to take credit for the win when I asked him about the victory, “It was definitely a big win for our team, we found a way to gut it out and claw our way back in the end. Down the stretch I was just trying to make plays to help the team win. We came together and got big stops, then Joe (Furstinger) and Spence (Weisz) stepped up and hit some clutch free throws to seal it.” Ben Eisenhardt had this to say about Bell’s contribution, “We were at the end of about as draining a three game road trip as we could have had, and to have Amir step up and carry us across the finish line was big time.” Big time indeed.
4) Crazy game at the Drive In Arena between Hapoel Tel Aviv and Nahariya that saw the northern squad eliminated from reaching the playoffs while the Reds stayed alive and will get in with a win over Ashdod on Monday. What was absolutely great to see was the combination of captain Tomer Ginat who will be heading to France to play with Metropolitans 92 and Yam Madar who entered the 2020 NBA Draft and is hoping to move up the ladder with quality performances with the resumption of the Israeli league. Ginat hit his career high with 27 points while Madar also scored his career high with 21 as the two were an unstoppable dynamic duo. Since the return to action Madar has averaged 10.6 points and 3.4 assists in 29 minutes per game which are all above his season averages as he looks to raise his draft stock. Madar has looked great since the return to action and has definitely turned some heads and has played with much confidence as he looks to help lead the team into the playoffs which the Reds can do with a win on the final gameday of the regular season.
5) One of the unsung heroes in Maccabi Tel Aviv’s win over Hapoel Jerusalem was Othello Hunter, who looked like the Othello Hunter of old. The Ohio State product had some big time plays including a monstrous block on Su Braimoh as he took him to the cleaners. But it wasn’t just the block it was his presence in the paint that caused the Reds all kinds of problems, both on the defensive end but also on the offensive side of the game as well. Whether it was finding his 2ay to the basket for an easy two points or just causing traffic for Jerusalem, Hunter was able to do it all. One could see that Hunter had been missing in the previous games when he had a back issue but also it took him a week to get back into the swing of things as this was a totally different center than we saw last week in the loss at Maccabi Rishon Le’Zion. You can see why Coach Ioannis Sfairopoulos wanted Hunter on his team when he signed the big man last summer and you also know exactly why he wanted him to continue in Yellow & Blue.
— Winner League (@WinnerLeague) July 10, 2020
Gilboa Galil notched a huge win as they look to take the 5th spot in the standings which means a date with struggling Hapoel Holon. Down by one with just a few seconds left in the game Lior Lubin’s team had a tough inbounds in the front court with Haifa swarming, but somehow, Michael Young was free under the basket, Iftach Ziv found him and it was game, set, match for the Galilee team sending Haifa reeling because if the Greens would have win they would have locked yo up 5th position. Instead, they will now have to hope Gilboa loses to Nes Ziona and they will have to win at Beer Sheva. Not the situation that coach Daniel Seoane wanted to see. But that’s sports.