Hapoel Gilboa/Galil shocked Hapoel Jerusalem in the capital city 90-86 coming back from a 15 point deficit midway in the fourth quarter to take home the win. D’Angelo Harrison scored a huge 34 points, Zach LeDay dropped 28 points whil Joaquin Szuchman drained a huge 3-pointer with 14 seconds remaining and flirted with a triple-double with 10 points, 9 rebounds and 7 assists for Gilboa/Galil in the win. Tarence Kinsey scored 16 points as Bar Timor and Kalin Lucas added 14 points a piece in the 4-point loss.
With Jerusalem seemingly in control going into halftime with a 7 point lead 50-43, the visitor’s continuously chipped away and came within 65-59 when Harrison looked to have hit a big 3-point with 2:40 left in the 3rd quarter to pull Gilboa/Galil to within 2 points. However, there was an injured Jerusalem player away from the ball and the bucket was called off leading the host’s to go on a 13-4 run to take a 15-point lead with 6:38 left in the game.
Ariel Beit Halachmi’s team then responded with a 15-0 run of their own to get even at 78-78 with a shade over two minutes remaining and then Harrison and Timor traded 3’s as the score moved to 85-85 with 33 seconds left. And that’s when Szuchman worked his magic thanks to a J’Covan Brown pass from the top of the key that found the rising star in the corner waiting to drain the decisive 3-pointer helping Gilboa/Galil to the win.
1) D’Angelo Harrison was unstoppable at the Jerusalem Arena scoring 34 points going 11/18 from the field and 8/9 from the free throw line while pulling down 6 rebounds and drawing 7 fouls in an MVP performance. The St. John’s product is scoring 16.9 points per game in his first year in Israel and has scored in double digits in 18 of the 23 games he has played in. He’s shooting at a 50% clip from 2 and 36% from 3 with a solid 83% from the charity stripe, not bad. Not bad at all. But the key to his evening was his ability to put aside the 3-pointer that was called off and end up scoring another 13 points to add to the 21 he had already dropped to help his team win the game. When asked about that moment he said, “You got to put us away. If you give us a little and don’t put us away we have guys that can score 10-12 points by themselves. It was a team effort.” Well, Harrison was the player to score not only 10-12 but 13 points down the stretch to take the win and leave Hapoel Jerusalem with nothing.
2) Gilboa/Galil under the direction of veteran coach Ariel Beit Halachmi has always been a fun team to watch. Run and gun and plenty of action. He’s always gotten hold of some quality foreign players who know how to play his style of basketball. Last season his team just missed out on the post season, but this year, they’re in 5th place sporting a 15-12 record and on the cusp of qualifying. Their style of play led to 32 fast break points which Jerusalem coach Oded Katash pointed out as being the biggest issue he had with the game as the defense just didn’t do what they needed to. Beit HaLachmi knows he needs his players to focus on the goal at hand and that nothing is guaranteed just yet, “The players have to understand that we still haven’t secured our spot in the playoffs and we have to take each game one at a time.”
3) Jerusalem was just stunned to lose this game. It’s as if they didn’t know what hit them. With a 78-63, they never thought in a million years that they would blow the 15 point advantage, but they did. The press conference was quiet and quick with very little excuses or explanations. Shell shocked would be the best way to describe what happened. But if you put aside the blown lead and look at the stats you’ll find the following: 11/21 from the line, Jerome Dyson 5/16, Startos Perperologou 2/9, Lior Eliyahu 0 points, Yotam Halperin 2 points, Rich Howell -11 and that pretty much all she wrote. Even with 5 players in double figures, Jerusalem just couldn’t get past the stats listed to find a way to take the win.
The USA Maccabiah team that won the Gold Medal last summer sports a number of players currently plying their trade in Israel and one of them is Gilboa/Galil’s Spencer Weisz, the 2016/2017 Ivy League Player of the Year. The Princeton grad may not be putting up huge offensive stats, but in his first year of professional ball he’s getting a feel for the game and is playing some serious minutes in crucial situations. He couldn’t be happier to be on a team that is playing good ball and spoke exclusively to the Sports Rabbi following his team’s win, “Our mindset is that we are never out of any game. The last few weeks we’ve found a good stride and we’ve been able to win in multiple types of ways and tonight’s another example of that. We fell behind but stuck together and we never thought we were out the game, we fought back and we were able to win. We are a family and rely on each other offensively and defensively. When we buckle down we can beat any team in the league but we know that when we don’t stick together we can be beaten.”