Maccabi Tel Aviv, Bnei Herzliya, Hapoel Gilboa/Galil and Hapoel Holon all opened up their Israel league quarterfinal series with wins to get the 2022 postseason underway over the weekend.
In the Tel Aviv derby, Maccabi downed Hapoel 100-88 thanks to Scottie Wilbekin’s stellar performance in the opener of the best-of-five duel.
The Reds held a 49-48 lead at the half as J’Covan Brown and Bar Timor paced Danny Franco’s squad early on.
But Wilbekin and Keenan Evans helped spur the hosts in the second half while Brown fouled out to help hand the yellow-and-blue the double-digit victory.
Wilbekin led Avi Even’s team with 31 points, Evans added 18 points and seven assists while Derrick Williams scored 14 points in the win.
Timor paced Hapoel with 18 points, James Young chipped in with 17 points and J’Covan Brown scored 11 points and dished out 10 assists in the loss.
“This is the playoffs and not the regular season,” Scottie Wilbekin said. “The only thing we are focusing on is the playoffs and that’s more important than the regular season. We want to win the championship. Everything else is just outsole noise. This was a derby, but at the end of the day it’s the first round and we have to get to the championship.”
Bnei Herzliya stomped on Hapoel Haifa 107-85 as Maurice Kemp put on a show to help Oren Aharoni’s team to the win.
Elad Hasin’s squad kept the game close midway through the third quarter, but the hosts were too much to handle as five players finished in double figures to take the win.
Kemp scored 28 points, Andy Van Vliet added 17 points and eight rebounds while Chris Babb and Chinanu Onuaku each scored 15 points in the victory. James Ennis paced the Carmel Reds with 19 points, as Kadeem Allen and Will Rayman each scored 13 points in the loss.
“We didn’t defend well in the first half and they shot over 70%,” Herzliya coach Aharoni said. “But the story of the game was our defense in the second half. “Kemp, Shawn Dawson did a great job and we really got a huge contribution from the bench and we needed that. We are a team that on any given day any player can step up and be the star.”
“We’re really excited about the win and we’re taking it one game at a time,” game MVP Maurice Kemp said. “We didn’t execute as we wanted to in the first half and gave away too many easy baskets, but in the sound half we corrected that. I just try to help my team any way I can. Some nights it’s scoring some defense, I just want to contribute as an older guy any way I can.”
“Exhaustion really played a part here in the second half,” Haifa coach Hasin began. “The small things got us, whether it was turnovers or lack of focus. Herzliya is a good team and they punished us. We had many unforced errors, but now we have to make some adjustments and come into Game 2 a bit better.”
Hapoel Gilboa/Galil slipped by Hapoel Jerusalem 88-85 as London Perrantes and Derek Cooke starred in the win to steal home-court advantage.
The Reds grabbed a 45-43 lead at halftime as Suleiman Braimoh and Retin Obasohan led the way, but Perrantes and Cooke took the bull by the horns in the second half to snatch the win and shock the capital city faithful at home.
Perrantes scored 27 points and added eight assists, Cooke recorded a double-double with 17 points and 19 boards while Ronnie Harrell scored 14 points in the win. Obasohan paced the hosts with 22 points, Braimoh added 21 points and Jalen Adams scored 12 points in the loss.
“We played aggressive[ly] and didn’t have anything to lose against the top seed in a hostile environment,” game MVP Perrantes said. “With Tyus Battle out, that gave me a bit more of an opportunity to be aggressive and shoot the ball a little bit more. I took what the defense gave me and we took the win.”
“I was surprised as to how we played,” a disappointed Jerusalem coach Yotam Halperin said. “We will learn from this, and we are in the middle of a series with the next game in Gilboa.
We gave up 88 points and we wanted to do some defensive things but didn’t. We gave up 19 offensive rebounds, and we gave up way too much to Perrantes as well. We knew that they would come to play and we have to cut down the [number] of points that we gave up. We are all disappointed and the way we played just wasn’t good enough. We will need to do a lot more in order not to give up 88 points on the road.”
Hapoel Holon easily disposed of Hapoel Galil Elyon 97-68 as five players scored in double digits to cruise to the victory.
Tyrus McGee and Chris Johnson paced the hosts to a 43-29 lead at halftime as Joe Ragland, Rafi Menco and Guy Pnini finished off the route to take the first game in their quarterfinal series.
McGee led the way for Guy Goodes’s squad with 18 points, Johnson added 16 points, Ragland chipped in with 15 points, Menco scored 13 points and Pnini finished the game with 10 points.
Ike Iroegbu scored 19 points to lead Barak Peleg’s Galilee team while Bryce Washington added 14 points in the loss.
“We stayed together even when the whistles went against us,” game MVP Tyrus McGee said. “We knew it was going to be a tough battle, but we pushed the ball. We needed this win.”
“I was happy with our toughness, focus and intensity after a rough period,” Holon coach Goodes remarked. “We came into this game a bit broken after the Final Four, but the players understood the importance of the playoffs. Still, this was only the first game and we have to continue on.”
“I don’t know if we had lost by a point that we would be feeling any better,” Galil coach Peleg said. “We have to look ahead and just understand that this was just one of those days.”