In an overtime thriller with dramatic swings that made this week's elections look tame by comparison, Garden Rigs came through with a stunning victory, to claim the championship title in the Red and Doctor Murray's Israel Basketball League.
Fans stormed the court at the final buzzer, hoisting the Garden Rigs heroes onto their shoulders and the Red Auerbach Championship Trophy into the air, and setting off late-night celebrations among the faithful.
Garden Rigs' worthy adversaries were Ashreinu, and both teams put on a defensive clinic, never once surrendering an easy bucket throughout the night.
Garden Rigs was able to shut down Ashreinu's normally deadly outside shooting, while also preventing their patented athletic cuts to the hoop. Ashreinu, determined to expend no less effort, turned up the defensive pressure, trading steals and huge defensive stops.
Garden Rigs led by a single point at the half, and the second act was more of the same, as neither team was able to go on a run to put the game away.
At the one-minute mark, Ashreinu took a two-point lead, but Garden Rigs answered to tie. With time running out and Ashreinu looking for a buzzer-beater, Garden Rigs came up with their biggest defensive stand of the night, leaving the score deadlocked at the end of regulation.
As the championship game entered overtime, players' and fans' intensity reached a fever pitch, and both teams defenses' looked like they might simply refuse to allow a point. But Duvi Grumet finally found a small sliver of daylight, knocking down a 3-pointer and bringing down the house, to take the lead, 31-28.
Ashreinu would convert on foul shots to cut the lead to one, but was then forced to send Garden Rigs to line. It was Grumet shooting again, this time calmly sinking both free throws. Ashreinu's last-gasp long-range attempt to tie fell short, and Garden Rigs were the 2015 Champs, winning with score 33-30.
Yehoshua Zirman and Bryan Itkowitz notched 10 points apiece for Garden Rigs, while Ashreinu's attack was led by Justin Hod (9) and Bennett Scwartz (8) .
In the Tier 2 AFI Cup finals, top-seeded Vince Peanuts faced the challengers CCJ in the championship game.
CCJ came out strong, and were dominant on the boards, recording 15 team offensive rebounds. David Azancot and Mordy Reisman led the methodical CCJ attack, as the team resisted temptation and did not attempt a single three-pointer for the first three quarters of the game. The strategy seemed to work, as CCJ built an 8-point halftime lead, and looked poised to put the game out of reach.
A furious Vince Peanuts rally threatened the lead late, but CCJ then pulled out an unexpected trump card - 4-for-7 shooting down the stretch, from behind the arc!
The expert stealth marksmanship hurtled CCJ to a 44-28 final margin. Azancot tallied 5 offensive rebounds and 15 points and was named the MVP, and the entire team was presented with the AFI Cup.
BEITAR ADVANCES TO SEMI'S, SHAALVIM EARNS UPSET WIN,
The playoffs got underway in the Red & Doctor Murray's Israel Basketball League, as the chase heated up for the coveted Red Auerbach Championship.
In Tier One, the top four teams all advanced to the semifinals, setting up great semifinals match-ups. Top seed Tzionim took care of business, defeating Jerry’s Kids 50-29. Tzionim will face the fourth seed, Garden Rigs, who had a tougher time against the Beanbags. the underdogs led by 5 at the half, but Garden Rigs came back from the locker rooms firing, with a 19-3 run to start the second half, and nailing down a 56-44 final.
Third seed Ashreinu overcame sixth seed Ubuntu with an incredible team effort. Offensively, three separate players scoring in double digits, while defensively Ashreinu did enough to slow down the Ubuntu attack, earning the 48-39 victory.
The second seed, Beitar Yerushalayim, has perhaps the toughest road in the playoff. In the quarterfinals, they took on the always dangerous Lobos, who put up a hard-fought effort behind the valiant Valansky brothers. Judah Cohen and company held on to win 54-50, setting up one of the most anticipated showdowns, as Beitar faces Ashreinu in the semis. The two teams faced off earlier in the season, with Beitar winning by a solitary point at the buzzer.
In Tier Two, top seed Vince’s Peanuts took on T. Liff Deli 5, in what looked destined to be the post-season's first upset. T. Liff came charging out of the box, scoring 8 unanswered points, and still led by 6 at the half. Vince’s Peanuts chipped away at the score, finally taking their first lead with 5 minutes remaining in the game. T. Liff still wouldn't go down quietly, coming within a deuce, but Vince’s peanuts held on down the stretch to win 44-39.
The second seed, CCJ, also punched their semifinals ticket with a 44-35 win over the 89ers, overcoming 20 points from Menachem “Mini” Solomon, and Feathers of Osedox also advanced, over Lev Aharon. And the long-awaited first upset of the playoffs finally materialized, as Shaalvim stunned A.D.I.,56-48, behind the amazing shooting of Dovie Neuburger and Ezra Teichman.
JERRY'S KIDS, UBUNTU, MAKE PUSH FOR POST-SEASON
Jerry's Kids and Ubuntu led a pack of teams vying for a spot in the Tier 1 playoffs, in the Red & Doctor Murray's Israel Basketball League. Ubuntu defeated A.D.I. 58-31, while Jerry’s Kids got past Vince's Peanuts 62-47
In other games with potential postseason implications, Beitar Yerushalayim earned a victory over Garden Rigs 57-41, the Beanbags defeated Feather of Osedox 45-29 and Vince's Peanuts came out ahead of CCJ 46-31.
Fighting for the pole position, both The Tzionim and Ashreinu remained undefeated, coming down the stretch run of the regular season. The Tzionim edged past the Garden Rigs 54-47, while Ashreinu defeated the Lobos 47-37. The prelapsarian protagonists meet in the regular season finale.
Shaalvim fought hard for a win over 189ers, 35-33. The 189ers bounced back in their next game, with Menachem Solomon going off for 32 points against T. Liff Deli 5, to fuel a 52-47 win.
Meanwhile, Jerry’s Kids squeezed by A.D.I. 48-42, and Lev Aharon defeated T. Liff Deli 5 by the score 60-51.
ASHREINU, A.D.I., WIN DOUBLE-HEADERS
With the playoff race tightening, Ashreinu and A.D.I each won valuable double-headers, in the Red & Doctor Murray's Israel Basketball League.
After a slow start out of the gates, A.D.I put on a 3-point clinic in the second half, to earn a 43-37 comeback victory over CCJ. A.D.I. tallied only 11 points in a defensively-oriented first period, then went 8 for 13 from behind the arc, en route to a 32-point second half.
A.D.I. continued their impressive play, moving closer to a post-season berth by defeating the 189ers, 59-37.
Meanwhile, Ashreinu remained undefeated with a pair of victories. The first was a comfortable 42-27 win over Ubuntu, while the second was a 48-44 shoot-out over Beanbags.
The Tzionim once again showed why they hold the top spot in the standings. Led by Elisha Edelman (18 points, 6 rebounds) the Tzionim shot an incredible 80% from the floor while playing stifling defense, bumping top seeded Beitar Yerushalayim out of the pole position with a "statement win", 57-36.
In other scores, The Garden Rigs displayed great team basketball as they defeated the Lobos 50-41, T. Liff Deli 5 outlasted Shaalvim 53-51, and Lev Aharon held off a late comeback by Ubuntu for a 45-40.
TZIONIM, GARDEN RIGS, STAY PERFECT WITH OT WINS
In a battle of undefeated teams, Tzionim held off Ellkay in a thrilling overtime finish, while Garden Rigs went beyond regulation to keep their record unblemished, in the Red and Doctor Murray's Israel Basketball League.
The Tzionim jumped out to a big 13-1 lead, but Ellkay fought back, led by Yehoshua Zirman and Justin Hod, and at halftime the score was tied at 28 apiece.
The second half was nearly a mirror image of the first, with Ellkay pouring on the points, and with 10 minutes to play Ellkay had a 13 point led of their own. The Tzionim clawed their way back into the game behind the shooting of Yehuda Shuk (20 points), finally tying the score in the waning seconds and sending it to overtime. The extra frame saw Tzionim move ahead, this time just barely holding their lead, for a 51-49 final.
In another overtime nail-biter, the Garden Rigs also defended their undefeated record, grabbing a 34-31 OT win over Ubuntu.
Meanwhile, CCJ came out firing, nearly unseating Beitar Yerushalayim from their undefeated perch, but Mitch Blitman's dominance on the boards was too much to overcome, with Beitar pulling away down the stretch, 58-42, to keep a share of the lead in the standings. And Ashreinu displayed a huge team effort, with every player on the squad scoring, en route to a 73-48 defeat of Feathers of Osedox.
In other scores, Beanbags defeated Vince’s Peanuts 52-29, A.D.I. notched a 35-25 win over T. Liff Deli 5, and Jerry’s Kids returned from their bye week to beat Shaalvim 54-40.
ASHREINU, FEATHERS OF OSEDOX, SURVIVE THRILLERS
In a back and forth battle, neither Osedox nor Lev Aharon were able to pull away the entire game. Osedox finally emerged victorious, 63-62, surviving a Lev Aharon missed opportunity at the foul line, and successfully defending their one-point lead at the buzzer.
Meanwhile, Ashreinu rallied from a 7 point deficit with under 5 minutes to go, to earn a razor-thin victory over 2xist. The Frenkel brothers hit a barrage of 3’s to fuel the comeback.
In other scores, Vince’s Peanuts held off T. Liff Deli 5 for a 48-36 victory, while Lobos were able to overcome Jerry’s kids for a 46-37 win.
Sredni’s Slammers continued their dominance, defeating A.D.I. 49-22. The Beanbags notched a win over A.D.I., 56-48, and the Garden Rigs defeated CCJ 41-38 to remain unbeaten thus far.
TZIONIM, ELLKAY, WIN BIG
The Tzionim maintained a perfect record with a win over Vince’s Peanuts, while Ellkay kept pace at the top of the standings, in the Red and Doctor Murray's Israel Basketball League.
Tzionim led by 15 after the first quarter and never looked back, cruising to a 58-22 win. The Tzionim were led by Chaim Friendman's strong presence on the boards and Moshe Bietler's expertise controlling the tempo of the game.
The Sredni Slammers continued their winning ways with another impressive victory, this time with a 61-24 landslide over T. Liff Deli 5. The Slammers have outscored their opponents over the past two games by a whopping 117-62 margin.
Two new contenders playing their debut in the league, the Beanbags and the Garden Rigs, faced off, with the Garden Rigs coming out on top in a 33-30 nail-biter. With time winding down the Beanbags had an opportunity to send the game into overtime, but the Garden Rigs' defense held firm, for the victory.
In other scores, Ellkay earned a pair of W's, defeating both the Lobos and an impressive Yula team, 55-35 and 52-35 respectively. Meanwhile, CCJ squeezed out a victory over Solomont with a 35-32 win, and the Feather of Osedox held off 2Xist to grab their first victory.
For all the latest news, schedules and scores, visit www.afibasketball.com .
"RED AND DOCTOR MURRAY'S" ISRAEL BASKETBALL LEAGUE TIPS OFF"
The Red and Doctor Murray's Israel Basketball League tipped off this week, with exciting games featuring perennial contenders as well as promising new teams, all vying for the coveted Red Auerbach Championship Trophy.
It was a slow start for Jerry's Kids as they went down 14-6 early in the first half, but they rallied back within a point at halftime. In the second half, Jerry's Kids trailed by as many as 10 points, but with only two minutes to play and the score 44-34, Jerry's Kids went on an amazing run, cutting the lead to two points with just 4 seconds on the clock. In the game's waning moments, Jerry's Kids put up a desperation buzzer-beater, but the attept fell short, finally ending the intense battle.
In other action, an undermanned Shaalvim squad nearly got by Lev Aharon, hanging around until the very end. It was a close game the whole way with Shaalvim leading by 3 with two and a half minutes to go, but then Lev Aharon exploded for 10 points in minute, ultimately prevailing. Yisroel Benovitz led the way for Shaalvim with 25 points, while captain Shimmy Savitsky put up 13 points and grabbed 12 rebounds.
Next, the YULA team took on the ever so talented Lobos. Even with strong play from Ariel Sokel, the YULA team couldn't match the Lobos, who took the win 64-55.
And newcomers Vince's Peanuts held off Lenik for a 46-40 victory debut.