Reds follow cup conquest with league victory

Holon tops Hapoel Tel Aviv • Yellow-and-blue downs Rishon heading into international break

MACCABI TEL AVIV swingman Deni Avdija (photo credit: ADI AVISHAI)
MACCABI TEL AVIV swingman Deni Avdija
(photo credit: ADI AVISHAI)
The Israel Basketball League had a full slate of games just before the international break as the Israel national team will begin preparations for its EuroBasket 2021 qualification games at Poland on Thursday night and in Tel Aviv next Monday against Romania.
Blue-and-white head coach Oded Katash will head into the first window of qualifiers after just capturing the Israel State Cup with Jerusalem and also winning at home over Ness Ziona.
Veteran Israeli guard Gal Mekel will captain the team for the campaign with a roster that will be headlined by NBA 2020 lottery prospect Deni Avdija.
Meanwhile, in league play over the weekend, Hapoel Holon downed Hapoel Tel Aviv 90-86 in the Greek-coach derby at the Drive-In Arena. Stefanos Dedas’s Holon had the upper hand throughout the majority of the game as his squad was able to get by Ioannis Katsikaris’s team thanks to fabulous play by newcomer Manny Harris, who just arrived from the Chinese League.
Harris ended the game with 22 points, Marcus Foster added 19 points and Guy Pnini notched 12 points in the win for Holon. Tomer Ginat scored 18 points and pulled down 12 rebounds for Hapoel Tel Aviv, Latavious Williams scored 18 points while Yam Madar chipped in with 17 points in the loss.
“I just came in and tried to help the team get the win,” said MVP Harris after his debut. “I only was with the team for two practices, but we stayed with it and continued to fight as we build chemistry.”
Elsewhere, Hapoel Jerusalem blasted Ness Ziona 102-71 as nine Reds scored eight points or more in the win. Katash’s crew, which was fresh off  the Israel State capturing the State Cup title in a tight 92-89 conquest of Ironi Nahariya in Thursday’s thrilling final, didn’t waste any time getting back to work in league as it jumped out to a 21-12 lead over Ness Ziona after the first quarter and never looked back.
Suleiman Braimoh led the way with 14 points, J’Covan Brown added 13 points and James Feldeine chipped in with 11 points in the win. Daequan Cook led the way for Ness Ziona with 21 points and JP Tokoto added 18 points in defeat.
“All in all I’m happy with the win,” said Katash. “It was one of those games where you just don’t know how the team is going to react after just winning the Cup. We had lost a number of league games recently so it was important that we won and will now go into the international break on a good note.”
Also, Maccabi Tel Aviv defeated Maccabi Rishon Lezion 75-64 as the yellow-and-blue held the wine city squad to just nine fourth-quarter points to record the victory.
Tyler Dorsey led the way with 19 points, Othello Hunter added 16 points and nine rebounds while Avdija scored 12 points and pulled down seven boards for the first-place yellow-and-blue in the victory. James Kelly scored 18 points for Rishon in the defeat.
Meanwhile, Maccabi Ashdod defeated Maccabi Haifa 91-88 as Brad Greenberg’s port city side won its second game in a row in continuing its climb out of the league’s basement.
The two squads went neck-and-neck for the full 40 minutes, but Alex Chubrevich’s layup with 34 seconds remaining in the game sealed the win for Ashdod.
Paul Stoll led the way for Ashdod with double-double of 27 points and 10 assists, good for an efficiency rating of 30, while Chubrevich added 13 points and 10 rebounds in the win. Gregory Vargas scored 26 points and Scott Suggs chipped in with 16 points for Haifa.
Hapoel Gilboa/Galil took out Hapoel Beersheba 85-81 in the southern capital as the Galilee team distanced itself from the relegation zone.
With the setback, however, Rami Hadar’s Beersheba is now just two games in front of the oncoming Ashdod squad.
Lior Lubin’s Gilboa/Galil took a 51-35 lead after 20 minutes and looked to be in control of the contest. The desert Reds came back strong over the final two quarters, but just came up short as they lost their third game in a row.
Michael Young scored a game-high 28 points for Gilboa/Galil while Jamar Gulley scored 17 points and Jarvis Varnado recorded a double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds.
Beersheba center Steve Zack scored 19 points and Da’Sean Butler added 16 points and nine assists in the defeat.
Hapoel Eilat got by Nahariya 89-84 as veteran forward Jonathan Skoljebrand helped the Red Sea city squad to a huge fourth quarter and an 11-0 run while Avi Ben Chimol and Rayvonte Rice hit their free throws to steal the win from the jaws of defeat.
Eilat’s Rafi Menco scored 25 points for a career high, Kyvon Davenport added 14 points and 12 rebounds while Rice chipped in with 12 points in the crucial win for coach Arik Alfasi’s side.
Jerel McNeal and Diamon Simpson each scored 17 points in the loss for Danny Franco’s Nahariya team.