The marquee matchup of the week in the Red & Doctor Murray's Israel Basketball League, Imrei vs. Tzionim, was a defensive battle the whole way through. At halftime the teams were locked in at 15-13, with Tzionim in the lead. Both teams continued to make their opponents work for every point in the second half, and in waning seconds of regulation, with Tzionim down by 2, Moshe Beitler hit a floater to send the game into overtime.
In OT it was more of the same, with each team's defense allowing absolutely no open looks - but with under a minute left, Eli Guwirtz got off a jump shot from the left elbow of the foul line, nailing it to give Imrei a hard-earned 28-26 win in OT.
The Black Knights continued their dominance as they played the under-manned Shalhevet Firehawks, leading from tip-off till the final whistle, and defeating the Firehawks 58-37.
The Pittsburgh Panda Bears moved to 2-0 on the season, by defeating Shua Strong. The Panda Bears built themselves a 20 point lead, and despite a rally by Shua Strong, the Pandas were able to hold them off for a 59-49 victory.
West Coast remained undefeated as each player scored double digits, running away from Mark Fertel by a 69-28 score.
The final game of the weekend was a thriller between newcomers Mr. Bagel and the returning LA Ballers. LA have their eyes on the championship, which barely eluded them last year. The game was fast-paced throughout, with the teams trading baskets and ach making small runs, and LA Ballers led 35-30 at the intermission. The pace didn't slow down in the second half, as the teams continued their nip-and-tuck battle. Then, with Mr. Bagel down 2 and less than 15 seconds left in the game, Yisroel Feld (32 pts, 8 reb, 7 assists) stole the ball and scored, to tie the game at 65. LA’s Daniel Tzion (36 pts), who had fueled LA's offense, got off a potential game-winner, but the ball biunced off the rim, sending the game into overtime.
In the extra frame, LA Ballers had a quick and-one to take a 3 point lead, but on the other end the Bagels' Dovie Marcus answered with an and-one of his own, tying the game. After some defensive stops, Feld drew a foul and hit one shot to take a 1 point lead. Mr. Bagel’s came up with a huge defensive stop, and on the offensive end, with the shot clock running down, Feld dribbled between two defenders, nearly lost the ball, and somehow fired a behind-the-back pass to a cutting Marcus, who laid it in to give Mr. Bagel a 3 point lead. A final stop and 2 foul shots iced the game for Mr. Bagel, 73-68.
“RED AND DR. MURRAY’S” ISRAEL BASKETBALL League Tips off :
TZIONIM, IMREI, FIRE HAWKS, WIN OPENERS
Opening night saw the veteran Tzionim take on the newcomers, Shua Strong.
The Tzionim came out in their typical 3-2 defense, and despite fantastic shooting from Shua Strong's Albert Waxman (16 pts, 5 reb), the Tzionim were able to limit Shua Strong's scoring, winning the season premier 60- 41. Tzionim were led by Ephraim and Moshe Weider, who combined for over 30 points.
In the second game, Toras Chaims Black Knights made a big statement to the league, as they defeated Fertel 71-43, on hot shooting from Ikey Cohen (20 pts) and the unstoppable inside play of Shmuel Sauer. Fertel was led by Jeffery Owen (12 pts).'
The final game of opening night was Imrei vs. The Chaburah. Despite the late hour, Imrei's defensive game was phenomenal, locking down the 38-17 victory.
Friday saw 4 new teams join the League. The first game was the Shalhevet Firehawks vs. the Pittsburgh's Panda Bears, and it was a close affair the whole way. Behind the 19 points and 6 rebounds of Shalhevets Eitan Halpert, and clutch foul shooting down the line, the Firehawks were able to win the nail-biter over the Panda Bears 43-39. Pittsburgh was led by Sammy Fishman with 15 points.
The final Friday game was between West Coast and Team Supreme. West coast came out firing and never looked back, as they defeated Team Supreme 67-28. West Coast's Max Lebowitz had an incredible game and finished with 27 pts, 16 reb, and 7 assists!
The LA Ballers finished their perfect regular season with a 45-35 victory over Ashreinu. The Tzionim faced ZC’s Lakers which came down to the wire. With some clutch foul shooting by ZC’s Lakers, they were able to hold off the Tzionim with a 32-31 victory. In other games, Chiraq defeated Lochamim to secure a place in Tier 1.
Shore Heart Group defeated the Trumanaires to secure themselves the #2 seed with a 67-58 victory. The Trumanaires, down by 7 at half, mounted a comeback that almost ended in a victory but clutch shooting by Jacob Dauer and Gabe Leifer helped propel Shore Heart Group to the win. The Trumanaires will face ZC’s Lakers in the first round of the playoffs.
Ashreinu played Levinger Magic and squeezed out a victory in OT 63-61, while Ohr Chaim secured the top seed in tier 2 by defeating Rocky Balboa 53-44. Rova Juice secured the #3 slot in Tier 1 by defeating Marhaba Beaches 74-55, while the Thunderhawks also defeated Marhaba Beaches 66-63 to sneak into the 8th seed of Tier 1.
TRUMANAIRES, LA BALLERS, AND SHORE HEART GROUP LEAD THE PACK
As teams head into the final week of the Red & Doctor Murray Israel Basketball league, the playoff picture has taken shape. With the top eight teams making the Tier One Playoffs, three juggernauts lead the field: Trumanaires, L.A. Ballers and Shore Heart.
LA Ballers remain undefeated, and if they keep it up through the playoffs they'll have a perfect season, and take home the Red Auerbach Championship Trophy. But it'll be easier said than done, as the Trumanaires, with legend Yisrael Feld, and Shore Heart Group, behind Gabe Leifer, have each fought hard to stay at the top, just one win behind in the standings.
With one more game remaining in the regular season, the seeding within Tier 1 are completely up in the air, as three challengers, Tzionim, Rova Juice and ZC’s Lakers, could vault into the top 3 seeds.
And no fewer than five more teams are vying this weekend for the final three tickets to the big dance: Chiraq, Ashreinu, Ohr Chaim, Lochamim and Thunderhawks.
The Tier 2 AFI Cup will consist of the remaining 7 teams, with the top team in Tier 2 getting a bye the first round.