Hapoel Tel Aviv picked up an important 95-89 Winner League win over Hapoel Jerusalem on Monday night in the capital city as Justin Tillman starred for Danny Franco’s squad in the win.
The Tel Aviv Reds jumped out to a 35-18 lead after the first quarter and, despite losing both James Young and Tyrique Jones to injury, were able to hang on for the six-point victory.
Tillman scored a league-high in points for this season with 37 and added 10 rebounds, Yam Madar and Young each added 12 points, while newcomer Paul Stoll scored six points and handed out six assists. Bar Timor, in his return to Jerusalem, scored seven points and dished out seven assists for Tel Aviv against his former club in the win.
Adam Ariel led the hosts with 20 points, Ray McCallum scored 18 points in his Jerusalem debut and Suleiman Braimoh also put in 18 points in the loss.
“This was a very big win for the club because we came into this game with a new lineup,” explained Franco. “We played exceptionally well in the first half but then we lost some players to injury and the guys came off the bench to battle and fight for the team.”
Tillman, the game’s most valuable player, spoke about how he made the most of his chances while also reflecting on the tough year he’s had on a personal level.
“When I had my touch going with my quick release, nobody could stop me. Everybody stepped up and played defense. I’ve been through a lot this year from losing both my parents to COVID-19 to switching teams and getting injured. I feel blessed to be healthy and to be part of this team in a country that I love.”
Jerusalem coach Danius Adomaits expressed his frustration at the result.
“This is the coach’s responsibility,” said Adomaits. “We had a very bad first 10 minutes. I will be the last person who will give up and the last person who would not believe in these guys. We missed shots and for sure the pressure is on us and it’s my job to take the pressure.”
McCallum scored the first points of the game for Hapoel Jerusalem, but Hapoel Tel Aviv’s Tillman scored points aplenty inside to give his team an early 13-5 first-quarter lead.
Franco’s squad continued to pour it on as Young drilled home a pair of triples and Jones scored inside, as TaShawn Thomas tried to keep Adomaitis’s team close, but it was down 35-18 after 10 minutes.
Tillman continued to score from inside the paint, but Young went down in a heap and had to be helped off of the court in a tremendous amount of pain. Still, the Tel Aviv Reds upped their lead to 44-22 with 6:54 left in the second quarter.
McCallum, Kramer and Braimoh put in points for Jerusalem, but couldn’t make much of a dent as Tel Avivi went into halftime with a 57-36 advantage.
The third quarter began just as the previous frame did, with Tillman scoring inside as Braimoh and Kramer also found points, but Hapoel Tel Aviv continued to lead 67-46 midway through the period.
Daniel Koperberg scored a pair of buckets inside, but McCallum went from deep and Stanton Kidd put down a dunk as Jerusalem cut the Tel Aviv advantage to 73-59 after 30 minutes.
Ariel went from beyond the arc and Kidd added two buckets, but Tillman kept scoring to keep Tel Aviv in front 80-69 with 5:21 left in the fourth quarter.
Ariel scored from downtown and Thomas jammed the ball, but Tillman answered with a dunk of his own at the other end. McCallum nailed a pair of triples and Ariel went for one as well to pull Jerusalem to within 90-85 with 1:15 remaining on the clock.
However, Jonathan Mor scored off an inbounds play and Madar added a free-throw to help Hapoel Tel Aviv secure the win.
Meanwhile, Hapoel Holon beat Hapoel Beersheba 82-75 in Winner League play as Stefanos Dedas’s squad continued to win no matter what competition it is playing in.
After returning to Israel following a dramatic Champions League victory over Pinar Karsiyaka in Turkey earlier in the week, Holon kept rolling along as the hosts took a 49-41 lead at halftime and extended the advantage over the second half to notch the victory.
Isaiah Miles once again came up big with 20 points, Chris Johnson added 18 points and Tyrus McGee chipped in with 12 points in the victory. Eric Griffin led Rami Hadar’s Southern Reds with 21 points, while Amir Bell and Amit Suss each scored 13 points in the loss.
Immediately following the game, Holon extended Johnson’s contract through the 2021/22 season.
Also, Maccabi Haifa picked up a crucial 89-79 win over Bnei Herzliya as the Carmel Greens continued to move up the standings and out of the relegation zone.
Both sides battled it out throughout the 40 minutes, but Amit Ben David’s squad was able take the victory thanks to superb play by Chris Dowe with 23 points, Roman Sorkin’s 22 points and 10 rebounds, Michael Cobbins’s 16 points and 10 boards as well as 10 points and 11 assists by Kalin Lucas.
Max Heidegger led Sharon Drucker’s Herzliya team with 24 points in the loss.
At Beit Maccabi, Maccabi Rishon Lezion dropped struggling Hapoel Haifa 104-98 as star guard Jeremy Pargo scored 30 points to propel his team to the win.
Golan Gutt and Darryl Monroe each scored 17 points for Guys Goodes’s team while Jason Siggers led the Carmel Reds with 25 points and Keenan Evans added 24 points in the loss.
Elsewhere, Hapoel Gilboa/Galil nipped Ness Ziona 92-89 in overtime as Kerry Blackshear recorded 34 points and 14 rebounds to shine in the hard-earned victory.
The back-and-forth game headed to the extra season, where Joe Thomasson supplemented Blackshear’s scoring with clutch free-throws down the stretch.
Thomasson added 18 points and eight assists for Gilboa and Jehyve Floyd scored 11 points and grabbed 14 boards for Avishay Gordon’s team in the victory.
Braian Angola led Ness Ziona with 24 points while Patrick Miller and Jerome Meyinsse each scored 17 points in the defeat.