Hapoel Jerusalem staves off Herzliya rally

Maccabi Tel Aviv routs Hapoel Haifa ahead of Euroleague clash with Zalgiris • Ness Ziona faces Kyiv

OMRI CASSPI (left) and Maccabi Tel Aviv were to strong for host Hapoel Haifa, powering their way to a 37-point 104-67 triumph in Israel Winner League action (photo credit: LILACH WEISS)
OMRI CASSPI (left) and Maccabi Tel Aviv were to strong for host Hapoel Haifa, powering their way to a 37-point 104-67 triumph in Israel Winner League action
(photo credit: LILACH WEISS)
A trio of Israel Basketball League games are already in the books this week while three blue-and-white teams face continental competition as well.
 
Hapoel Holon, Hapoel Jerusalem and Maccabi Tel Aviv were all victorious, while Ness Ziona readies for FIBA Europe Cup action against Kyiv at a bubble in Holland, Holon heads to Turkey for a date with Pinar Karsiyaka and Maccabi Tel Aviv travel to Zalgiris in the Euroleague.
 
Hapoel Jerusalem held on to beat Bnei Herzliya 88-80 on the road as Dainius Adomaitis’s squad scored early and often, but Sharon Drucker’s team mounted a furious comeback over the final frame to almost steal the game.
 
Suleiman Braimoh, Idan Zalmanson and Malcolm Hill scored in bundles to give Jerusalem a 72-40 lead in the third quarter, but Max Heidegger, Abdul Gaddy and Terrell Parks helped the hosts storm back to pull to within 81-77.
 
However, Chris Kramer, who made his return after being on the sidelines with a minor injury for a little over a month, scored the decisive basket while Stanton Kidd and Zalmanson hit their free throws down the stretch to notch the win.
 
Braimoh led the Reds with 22 points, Zalmanson added 19 points, Hill chipped in with 17 points and Kidd scored 12 points in the win. Heidegger scored 22 points for Herzliya while Gaddy added 16 points and Parks notched 12 points in the defeat.
 
“I’m really happy with how we played and this is the way to play basketball,” said a satisfied Adomaitis. “To play this way with aggressiveness for 40 minutes is the dream of every coach. We needed to win and play good basketball. Unfortunately, it was for only 25 minutes but most importantly we got the win.”
 
Drucker was quite disappointed after the tough defeat for Herzliya.
 
“We played three horrible quarters and I feel that we went a few months back in time,” said Drucker. “We spoke about it at the half and we decided to go back to the basics, but we need to check to see what isn’t working for us.”
Kramer looked back at the win.
 
“I believe in the guys. You see how we played for the first 25 minutes with high energy, high tempo, high intensity basketball. We crashed the glass, we played great defense, we got out on transition and we got easy shots and layups. That’s what we have to do, hang our hat on our defense and let our offense come with our defense.”
 
Elijah Thomas and Elishay Kadir got the game off and running with a pair of baskets inside for Bnei Herzliya, while Aviram Zelicovitz also added points off the break. But Braimoh hit a corner three-pointer for Hapoel to close the gap to 8-6 midway through the first quarter.
 
Briamoh scored off a turnover, Kidd drained a corner triple while Braimoh continued to do as he pleased down low. Hill also got in on the act as he glided to the hoop for a three-point play and Adam Ariel drilled a triple.
 
Heidegger tried to keep the hosts close, but Herzliya trailed 28-14 after 10 minutes.
 
Briamoh kept scoring and Zalmanson added points, but Thomas worked the paint and Heidegger drained a pair of three-pointers as Herzliya cut the lead to 40-28 with 5:23 remaining in the second quarter.
 
Coty Clarke dunked off a turnover for Drucker’s squad and Gaddy scored as well, but Hill hit a floater at the end of the shot clock and added a triple to give Adomaitis’s team a 50-34 lead at the break.
 
The third quarter got under way with points from Braimoh and Kramer went coast-to-coast for an easy layup and then drilled home a three-pointer.
 
Zalmanson put in a pair of uncontested points inside and Hill went from downtown to bump the Jerusalem lead up to 62-39 midway through the period. Zalmanson chalked up a three-point play in the key, Tamir Blatt went from beyond the arc, Braimoh scored inside and Hill dropped a corner three.
 
Terrell Parks, Gaddy and Kadir answered for the hosts, but the Reds went into the final frame ahead 74-53.
 
Gaddy started the fourth quarter with a three-pointer, Parks notched points inside, Heidegger added a layup and a triple to cut the Jerusalem lead to 81-67 with five minutes to go in regulation time.
 
Heidegger then hit back-to-back balls from deep, Parks added points to bring the Reds advantage down to just four points (81-77) with 2:54 remaining.
 
But Kramer sliced up the Herzliya defense for a layup while Kidd and Zalmanson scored their free-throws to sew up the eight-point victory.
 
Meanwhile, Maccabi Tel Aviv routed Hapoel Haifa 104-67 up north as the yellow-and-blue outscored the hosts 54-25 in the second half to take the road victory.
 
Keenan Evans and Karam Mashour paced Elad Hasin’s squad early, but they were no match for Mac TA, which featured seven players in double-digits as Ioannis Sfairopoulos’s crew blew Haifa away over the final 20 minutes.
 
TJ Cline notched a double-double with 13 points and 11 rebounds, while Sandy Cohen, Oz Blayzer and Ante Zizic each scored 12 points in the win. Evans led the Reds with 20 points and Mashour added 16 points in the loss.
 
Elsewhere, Hapoel Holon got by Maccabi Haifa 79-70 to get back onto the winning track after falling to Pinar Karsiyaka in Champions League play earlier in the week.
 
The Greens surprised the visitors out of the gate with a solid first quarter, thanks to Roman Sorkin who scored 27 points, his career high in league play.
 
But Stefanos Dedas’s squad came back strong in the second quarter as Tyrus McGee (18 points), Chris Johnson (16 points), CJ Harris (14 points) and Isaiah Miles (12 points) led the way to the win.
 
Ness Ziona will ready to take on Kyiv in the Europe Cup round-of-16 in Holland on Wednesday and should Brad Greenberg’s squad defeat former Maccabi Tel Aviv coach Ainars Bagatskis’s crew, it will play the winner of the Iraklis-vs-Anwil matchup in the quarterfinals.
 
Maccabi Tel Aviv visits Zalgiris in Euroleague action on Thursday as the yellow-and-blue will look to get back into the win column in Lithuania, and on Tuesday Hapoel Holon will try to avenge last week’s loss to Pinar Karsiyaka in Champions League play as it team heads to Turkey.