Bnei Herzliya overcame a feisty Hapoel Tel Aviv team and over 2,000 of its
fervent fans to claim a 96-88 overtime victory in BSL action on Monday
The fan-owned Hapoel was set up under the name of Hapoel Ussishkin
five years ago and eventually took over the name and heritage rights of the
original Hapoel Tel Aviv team before gaining promotion to the top flight last
However, it will have to wait a little longer for its first BSL
win after coming up just short against Herzliya in a thrilling encounter in its
new home in Rishon Lezion.
Romel Beck led Herzliya with 29 points, with
Ben Rice adding 22 points after going scoreless in the first
Jumaine Jones contributed 19 points and 18 rebounds while Niv
Berkowitz provided 16 points and nine assists.
“I’ve been waiting for
this game for an entire year,” said an emotional Rice, who missed all of last
season due to a knee injury.
Demontez Stitt had 17 points, eight rebounds
and five assists for Hapoel, with Curtis Kelly scoring 16 points and Bar Timor
and Matan Naor contributing 13 points each.
The Hapoel fans rocked the
arena long before the tip-off and their team responded with a quick start
despite losing Matt Bouldin to an early injury, with a Naor steal followed by a
layup opening a 9-2 advantage.
A Timor basket increased Hapoel’s lead to
nine points (17-8), but Beck wouldn’t allow the hosts to run away with the game,
cutting the gap to a single point (19-18) at the end of the quarter.
Aviv simply had no answer for Beck and the Mexican forward took his personal
tally to 16 points and his team’s to 28 with a three-pointer that gave Herzliya a
three-point edge (28-25).
The teams were separated by just a single point
(44-43) at the break after a basket from Stitt and the hosts moved into the lead
by scoring the first seven points of the second half, five straight by Naor
followed by another Stitt field goal.
However, Herzliya had the edge
ahead of the final frame after catching fire from beyond the arc, with a Rice
three to end the third period giving the visitors a 66-60 lead.
two more triples at the start of the fourth quarter, opening a seven-point
margin (72-65), but Hapoel came right back, with Yotam Shiran’s two points tying
the game at 74-74 midway through the frame.
There was still nothing to
separate the teams at the final buzzer with the game going into overtime after
both sides squandered opportunities in the final minute.
Points were at a
premium at the start of the extra period and crucially it was Herzliya which
broke out of the slump first, with a Jones three with 1:40 remaining opening a
six-point margin (90-84) from which Hapoel could not return.