Hapoel Holon forward Glen Rice Jr. (right) (Adi Avishai).
(photo credit: ADI AVISHAI)
A spectacular basket by Glen Rice Jr. with 1.6 seconds to play gave Hapoel Holon an 86-84 victory over Maccabi Tel Aviv in the State Cup final at Yad Eliyahu Arena on Thursday night, securing the club its second cup triumph, a first since 2009.
Holon snapped Maccabi’s eight-year dominance of the competition, with the yellowand- blue’s previous defeat in the cup coming back in the last 16 in December 2008. Tel Aviv had won 32 consecutive State Cup games, but couldn’t get the better of Holon and Rice Jr., who finished the final with 28 points, eight rebounds and seven assists.
“You always dream about big games like this and to hit a game-winning shot,” said Rice Jr., the son of three-time NBA All-Star Glen Rice Sr., who leads the BSL with an average of 25.6 points per game. “I just knew I wanted to hold the ball so we would either go to overtime or win the game. I was lucky enough to have a hot hand today and luckily the shot went in.”
Rice’s questionable conduct, the highlight of which so far this season saw him kicking the ball deep into the stands after being called for traveling in a BSL game against Bnei Herzliya, is the only reason he is playing for Holon rather than at a big European club or in the NBA.
He arrived at the club after the season had already begun, with Holon looking for a replacement for Jabril Trawick, and his signing may well be remembered as a landmark moment for the team.
Tu Holloway added 18 points for Holon, with Guy Pnini adding 15 against the team that re-leased him last summer.
Alex Tyus led six Maccabi players in double figures with 17 points and nine rebounds.
The final began with two Holloway three-pointers within the first 40 seconds and Holon led by as many as eight points (18-10) in the first quarter.
John DiBartolomeo netted five straight points to finish the opening period to bring the yellow-and-blue within three points (25-22) and Maccabi took its first lead of the night (29-27) when Michael Roll’s three capped a 12-2 run.
Tel Aviv was still ahead by two points (44-42) entering the break, but an 8-0 surge within 90 seconds, including five points by Rice, put Holon back in front (50-45).
Rice increased Holon’s gap to seven points (63-56) by taking his team to 19-of-19 from the free throw line with two more accurate attempts, but Maccabi came roaring back, scoring 10 of the final 13 points of the quarter to tie the score at 66-66 entering the final 10 minutes.
After three quiet quarters in which he scored just five points, Pierre Jackson characteristically moved up a couple of gears in the final frame. The guard opened with a three, then set up a dunk for Alex Tyus before dropping another triple to complete an 18-5 run that gave the yellow-and-blue a six-point advantage (74-68).
Holon never stopped fighting though and was back in front ahead of the final six minutes when Holloway’s jumper made it 75-74. The lead would go back and forth, with a fortuitous Rice three off the backboard to beat the shot clock buzzer giving Holon an 82-81 advantage. Holon was still ahead by a single point (84- 83) entering the final minute, with DeAndre Kane hitting one of two free throws to tie the score at 84-84 with 26.9 seconds remaining. But Rice and Holon wouldn’t be denied and Holon fans celebrated long into the night.