Casspi, DiBartolomeo return for Mac TA

Busy Hapoel Jerusalem tops Holon • Beersheba crushes Nahariya • 1st-place Eilat stays hot

AFTER UNDERGOING knee surgery early this year, Maccabi Tel Aviv forward Omri Casspi was back on the floor for Monday night’s 81-75 victory over Hapoel Haifa. (photo credit: DOV HALICKMAN PHOTOGRAPHY)
AFTER UNDERGOING knee surgery early this year, Maccabi Tel Aviv forward Omri Casspi was back on the floor for Monday night’s 81-75 victory over Hapoel Haifa.
Maccabi Tel Aviv downed Hapoel Haifa 81-75 on Monday night in the Israel Winner League as the blue-and-white received a huge boost with the return of veteran forward Omri Casspi and captain John DiBartolomeo, both of whom had been out of action due to injuries for close to a year.
Despite not having played in 12 months, the pair didn’t look at all rusty as Casspi used his savvy both on the inside and outside to score 10 points while DiBartolomeo checked in with not only eight points, but floor generalship that hasn’t been seen in quite some time for the yellow-and-blue.
Oz Blayzer paced Ioannis Sfairopoulos’s squad with 21 points, Ante Zizic added 11 points and Tyler Dorsey scored nine points in the win. Keenan Evans scored 17 points, Amit Simhon added 16 points and Jason Siggers chipped in with 14 points for Haifa in a losing cause.
“We deserved to win as we played well most of the game and played good defense,” said a satisfied Sfairopoulos. “We expected that Haifa would come back in the second half as we were up by double digits. We could have avoided some baskets and I didn’t like how we placed over the last four minutes, but we took the win.”
The coach was also content to have both Casspi and DiBartolomeo back on the court.
“I’m really happy as to how they played. It’s not easy to put them back in the game and they also have a minutes restriction. They played really well and I’m happy that we saw how much we had missed them.”
“It feels great to be back,” said DiBartolomeo. “I’ve been looking forward to this day and I’ve never been away from the game for this long. I’ve been thinking about this for a very long time and I wish I could have shared this moment with the fans.”
Meanwhile, Hapoel Jerusalem dropped Hapoel Holon 82-73 to win its third league game in seven days despite playing with a short roster.
Oded Katash’s squad received tremendous play from the seven players who stepped on the court as TaShawn Thomas – with 23 points, 11 rebounds and 7 assists – led the Reds to the hard-earned victory.
Suleiman Braimoh added 16 points, Chris Kramer chipped in with 14 points while Tamir Blatt checked in with 12 points and eight assists. Chris Johnson was Holon’s high scorer with 29 points and Frederic Bourdillon added 13 points in the loss.
“We played with a short roster again,” explained Katash. “We ended up winning due to our defense. I told them how proud I was as this was a challenging stretch. This win really shows the character of our team.”
Kramer, who just extended his contract until the end of the season, also chimed in.
“Huge effort with a short rotation with the odds kind of stacked against us but we showed character this week. They made a run and we stayed together, made the plays and responded. Now we have to rest up.”
Elsewhere, Hapoel Beersheba dismantled Ironi Nahariya 104-80 in the southern capital as Rami Hadar’s squad grabbed a 29-21 lead after the first quarter and never looked back to improve its record to 3-1.
Caleb Agada starred for the hosts as he scored early and often to finish the game off with 29 points, five rebounds, four assists and an efficiency rating of 39 in the win. Travis Warech scored 18 points, Eric Griffin added 17 points and Amit Suss chipped in with 11 points.
Devon Scott led Danny Franco’s team with 25 points, Kalin Lucas added 21 and Joe Alexander put in 15 points in the loss as Nahariya remains winless with an 0-4 record.
Also, Maccabi Rishon Lezion downed Bnei Herzliya 93-85 as Trey Lewis scored 31 points in the comeback win for Guy Goodes’s squad.
Sharon Drucker’s Herzliya led for most of the way and was even up by 20 points at one stage, but it couldn’t hold on over the course of the second half and fell to 0-5 while the hosts evened their record at 2-2.
With the score 81-76 in favor of Herzliya, Lewis scored a layup and then drilled home a triple to tie it up with 2:37 left in the game while Isaiah Taylor, Darryl Monroe and Noam Dovrat sewed up the conquest.
Taylor added 22 points and Monroe chipped in with 17 for Rishon, while Herzliya’s Coty Clarke had 29 points, Frank Gaines scored 15 points and Isaiah Eisendorf chipped in with 10 points in the loss.
Hapoel Eilat continued its hot start in sinking Hapoel Gilboa/Galil 100-77, sending the Galilee team to its first defeat of the season.
The Red Sea squad took a 48-35 lead at the half and never looked back as five players featured in double digits for Ariel Beit Halachmi’s team. Markel Brown scored 19 points, added five rebounds and dished out seven assists, Casey Prather led all scorers with 21 points, Joe Ragland and Jonathan Skjoldebrand chipped in with 16 points apiece while Josh Nebo chalked up a 14 point-10 rebound double-double in the win.
Joe Thomasson scored 12 points, grabbed seven boards and handed out seven assists for Gilboa/Galil and Isaiah Cousins added 14 points in the loss.
Finally, Maccabi Haifa won its first game of the campaign with a 92-83 victory at Hapoel Tel Aviv.
The Greens played superb team ball as young gun Michael Brisker notched his career high in points with 20, while adding seven rebounds and five assists. Chris Dowe added 23 points and six assists and Davin Jefferson put up a double-double with 19 points and 10 boards for Daniel Seoane’s squad.
Bar Timor led the way for Tel Aviv with 21 points and seven assists, newcomer JP Tokoto scored 15 points in his debut while Yam Madar – who was selected by the Boston Celtics in the NBA Draft last week – recorded a 12 point-10 assist double-double in defeat.