Holon earns a trip to Winner Cup final

Late 12-0 run led by McGree lifts underdogs over Hapoel Jerusalem in tight semifinal battle.

TYRUS MCGEE (right) scored a game-high 27 points to lead Hapoel Holon to an 89-85 victory over Tarik Phillip (left) and Hapoel Jerusalem in Saturday night's Winner Cup semifinal tilt.  (photo credit: BERNEY ARDOV)
TYRUS MCGEE (right) scored a game-high 27 points to lead Hapoel Holon to an 89-85 victory over Tarik Phillip (left) and Hapoel Jerusalem in Saturday night's Winner Cup semifinal tilt.
(photo credit: BERNEY ARDOV)
Hapoel Holon squeaked by Hapoel Jerusalem 89-85 on Saturday night to punch its ticket to the Winner Cup Final, where it will face the winner of the second semifinal between Maccabi Tel Aviv and Maccabi Rishon Lezion, which finished late Sunday night after press time.
Stefanos Dedas’s Holon squad jumped all over the reigning cup holder in the first half with high-pressure defense leading to 15 steals
The Reds strong third quarter put them in the driver’s seat heading into the final frame, however, Tyrus McGee took the bull by the horns to lead Holon on a late 12-0 run and the four-point win. 
McGee scored a game-high 27 points, CJ Harris added 19 points and Chris Johnson chipped in with 16 points and seven rebounds in the win. Suleiman Braimoh led Jerusalem with 22 points, TaShawn Thomas scored 15 points and grabbed nine rebounds while Malcolm Hill added 14 points in the loss.
“I think the approach we had before the game gave us the win,” said Dedas. “We said that we would play aggressively and we would do what Galil did to us in the quarterfinals. And that’s how we took the lead. We were in the game even when we were behind. We knew to attack the right players.”
The star of the show, McGee, also reflected on the win.
“We just need to look forward and get better. We came out the way we were supposed to and basketball is a game of runs. Some shots didn’t go in, but we still got it done.”
Jerusalem coach Oded Katash shared his perspective on his club’s defeat.
“We lost because of a bad first half,” explained Katash. “We defended well at some points, but they went to a small-ball approach. We played poorly on the full-court press, we lost a lot of balls and they won the game. It’s hard to explain that, but we will learn.”
Thomas, one of Jerusalem’s vocal leaders, understands that his team isn’t where it needs to be yet.
“It’s [about] consistency right now. Sometimes I’m feeling the team and then there are times it feels shaky. But it’s a new team so you can expect that. We need to get over that hump and play like we can. It’s growing pains. Jerusalem was good last year and the year before that and people are used to that. I think with a little more time we can be the team that people expect us to be.”
Harris began the semifinal just as he ended the quarterfinal with points for Holon, along with Rich Howell and Johnson, while Hill and Braimoh found the basket for Jerusalem as the teams were knotted up at 6-6 midway through the first quarter.
Harris and Thomas traded buckets, but Johnson and McGee scored while Willy Workman hit his free throws as Holon’s eight opening-frame steals helped propel it to a 20-12 lead after 10 minutes.
McGee got the second quarter started with a pair of triples as Chris Kramer nailed two from long distance for Jerusalem, but a mega dunk by Isaiah Miles upped Holon’s lead to 31-19 with 6:41 remaining in the first half.
Holon newcomer Frederic Bourdillon hit a layup and Harris nailed a three-pointer, while Tamir Blatt drilled a jumper and Braimoh scored a pair in the paint for the Reds and forced Dedas to call timeout with Holon still ahead 36-28 and 4:34 left in the half.
Blatt went from deep and Braimoh scored a pair for free throws, but Johnson and Harris hit their shots as well to keep Holon in front 44-37 at the break.
Hill and Blatt got things started for Jerusalem in the third quarter while McGee and Johnson answered for Holon, but points by Braimoh and Thomas pulled Katash’s crew to within two points (50-48) midway through the stanza.
Howell scored in the paint, but Hill went from deep twice and Thomas once as the frantic pace continued. Briamoh and Kramer scored from beyond the arc as Jerusalem went a perfect 5-for-5 from three-point range to grab a 63-58 lead after 30 minutes.
Holon’s Bourdillon drained a triple at the end of the shot clock and Workman hit free throws, but Tarik Phillip scored in the paint and was fouled while Thomas found points inside as well as Jerusalem led 71-63 with 6:29 left in regulation.
McGee and Johnson scored for Holon while Thomas and Blatt did as well for Jerusalem, but Guy Pnini free throws and a McGee bucket cut the Reds lead to 76-73 with a shade over two minutes remaining.
McGee drained a pair from the charity stripe and Pnini drilled a triple to propel Holon to its late 12-0 scoring spurt to seal the tight conquest and advance to the Winner Cup final at a date to be decided.