Holon rolls into last-16 of Champions League


Hapoel Holon defeated Oostende 78-72 to win the Basketball Champions League Play-In Series 2-1 and punch its ticket to the Round of 16 Group Stage.

In Game 3, held in Szombathely, Hungary, the Purples jumped out to an early lead with CJ Harris and Deondre Burns spurring Amit Sherf’s team on, while Justin Smith was overpowering in the second half to close out the victory.

Next week, Holon will continue its Champions League journey as it will play in a group with UCAM Murcia from Spain, AEK Athens and Promitheas Patras, both from Greece.

Smith scored 28 points and nine rebounds, Harris added 16 points and eight assists while Burns scored 10 points in the win. Damien Jefferson scored 23 points while Khalil Ahmad and Pierre-Antoine Gillet scored 13 points each in the loss.

‘Proud of the club’

“I am proud of the club and the organization,” Sherf said. “The fact that we played in the first round is something that we can’t take for granted.

Michael Kaiser (12) and Hapoel Holon gave Maccabi Tel Aviv all it could handle, earning a narrow 85-82 home victory in Israel Winner League action. (credit: UDI ZITIAT)

“Management decided to go for it and our target was still to go to the Top 16. They gave us all of the tools. We may have spent more nights in hotels than at home and we have been flying back and forth constantly. From the first game against Bonn we showed that we deserved to be in the Round of 16.

“It’s a bitter feeling because I think we could have done better,” Oostende coach Dario Gjergja said about the game. 


“What cost us was probably the first quarter. We didn’t want them to run on us and let them take advantage of turnovers. We stayed there in the third quarters, fought and took a lead but couldn’t keep the pace. The points by Smith cost us a lot.”

Smith, the game’s MVP, spoke about the win.

”I’m really proud of our team’s collective effort, especially after how we played in the last game where we had things going against us. We wanted to have our energy in this game and we really needed our fans, so we were happy that a few were here with us. 

“We were desperate coming into this one as we really, really wanted to win this game. Everyone who stepped on the floor stuck to the game plan.”

Oostende’s Khalil Ahmad also spoke about the contest from the losing side.

“It was a tough one and we had a lot of turnovers during critical moments when we needed a bucket and it was just tough to get one.”

EuroCup standings 

In EuroCup action, Hapoel Tel Aviv fell to Paris 104-86 to drop its record to 11-4 on the season, while the first place French club widened the gap with the Reds and now sits atop the standings with a 14-1 record.

After an even opening quarter, Tuomas IIsalo’s squad began to pull away with points from TJ Shorts and Collin Malcolm as Paris took the lead and never looked back to take the victory.Shorts finished with 20 points and added 10 assists, Malcolm scored 15 points and Tyson Ward chipped in with 13 points in the win. Dez Wells scored 20 points as Tomer Ginat and Xavier Munford each scored 14 points for Tel Aviv in the loss.

In Israeli league action, Ness Ziona sunk Hapoel Eilat 80-71 as a balanced scoring attack by Elad Hasin’s squad saw five players finish in double digits to notch the win.

The Red Sea squad grabbed an early 17-13 lead after the first quarter, but the hosts came back with strong performances by George King, Rawle Atkins, Isaiah Whitehead and Tzuf Ben Moshe, who put Ness Ziona into the lead for good.

King and Whitehead each scored 16 points for Ness Ziona while Ben Moshe and Jerome Meyinsse each added 12 points in the victory. Elijah Stewart scored 23 points for Eilat and Andrew Smith chipped in with 13 points in the loss.

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