Hapoel Holon rounds out State Cup quarterfinalists

Hapoel Jerusalem hosts Herzliya while Haifa visits Ashdod.

December 20, 2016 00:55
2 minute read.
Hapoel Holon guard Khalif Wyatt had 25 points in last night’s 99-76 win over Hapoel Jerusalem.

Hapoel Holon guard Khalif Wyatt had 25 points in last night’s 99-76 win over Hapoel Jerusalem.. (photo credit: ADI AVISHAI)

Hapoel Holon booked the final ticket to the State Cup quarterfinals on Monday night, continuing its impressive season with a 91-70 win over Hapoel Eilat in the round-of-16.

Holon joined Maccabi Tel Aviv, Hapoel Jerusalem, Maccabi Haifa, Maccabi Ashdod, Bnei Herzliya and National League teams Ironi Ness Ziona and Hapoel Beersheba in the last-eight.

Holon, which sits in second place in the BSL standings with a 7-3 record, was drawn to visit Beersheba in the quarters, with Ness Ziona’s reward for knocking out Ironi Nahariya of the BSL being a home meeting with Maccabi Tel Aviv.

Hapoel Jerusalem hosts Herzliya while Haifa visits Ashdod.

The quarterfinals will be played next weekend.

On Monday, an 11-2 run to end the first half gave Holon a 14-point margin (42-28), with the hosts leading by as many as 22 points in the third quarter.

Eilat moved within eight points (68-60) with eight minutes to play, but could come no closer.

Khalif Wyatt was superb for Holon once more, finishing with 29 points and nine assists.

“I just want to stay confident, keep competing and keep trying to get more wins,” said Wyatt, who joined Holon during the summer after two seasons with Eilat. “I’m staying confident, being aggressive and just playing well. I love the fans. They give me a lot of energy and pick me up even when I miss shots. It is easy for me to go out there and be confident and play hard.”

Wyatt credited coach Dan Shamir for creating the opportunity for him to succeed.

“Strange things happen in basketball, one of them being the fact that Wyatt is still playing in Israel,” said Shamir, whose joy from the win was tempered by a serious looking knee injury sustained by Paul Delaney.

“Every year we keep saying that he will move on next year so maybe it will happen in the coming summer. This was another game in which he carried us on his back to the win.”

Reginald Buckner scored 14 points for the disappointed Eilat.

“We knew they would be very aggressive and we didn’t play well and couldn’t get into our rhythm,” said Eilat coach Oded Katash.

Both Shamir and Katash were among the names mentioned in recent days as possible candidates for the vacant head coaching position at Maccabi Tel Aviv following the resignation of Rami Hadar on Friday.

However, after making the decision that it wants to bring in a foreign coach, Maccabi looks to have found its man in Latvian Ainars Bagatskis, David Blatt’s assistant at Turkish team Darussafaka.

Bagatskis seems set to beat out Lithuanian Rimas Kurtinaitis for the job, with Maccabi’s management expected to meet the Latvian on Tuesday to close the deal after Blatt and Darussafaka gave their blessings.

Bagatskis, who has little Euroleague experience and has spent almost his entire coaching career in Eastern Europe, will not take charge until after Maccabi visits Darussafaka in Istanbul on Friday.

Lior Lubin, who began the season as a second assistant coach, will guide the team against CSKA Moscow on Wednesday, as well as against Darussafaka.

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