Blogging Through Israel (part four)

Blogging Through Israel (part four)
Nov 16, 2006, 10:19 am
Galil vs Givat-Shmuel and Maccabi vs Ashkelon

In a high scoring game, Galil was able to knock off Givat Shmuel after trailing for much of the game. Former Wyoming point guard Jay Straight started the game by scoring 5 points on his own, after being fouled on a runner, and making a pair of technical free throws. Givat’s Boo Davis, formerly of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, also got off to a quick start, and put his team up by a score of 30-20 after the first quarter. Going into the second, Davis also started hot, but Galil was able to cut the lead to 5 at the 7:38 mark in the second quarter. Jay Straight hit a couple of long jumpers to make the score 52-42 going into half time. In the third quarter, Galil was able to come back and cut the lead to 1 point, after starting out slow. In the fourth quarter Galil took a lead and was able to hold off Givat thanks to some hot shooting by Sasha Bratic. They ended up winning the game by a final count of 96-87.

Omri Casspi played a good game for Galil, but all of his scoring came in the second and third quarters. Casspi made a turnover early in the game followed by a missed defensive rotation, so he was pulled after two minutes. He didn’t seem to be affected by his slow start when he re-entered the game at the 5:51 mark in the second quarter. Unable to finish on a nice drive to the left, he was able to get his own rebound and put the ball back into the hoop. Casspi also displayed the ability to create off the dribble when he jabbed left, took a dribble to the right, crossed back over, and made a mid-range jumper. His shooting mechanics aren’t the best, but his release is consistent and his shot goes in more often than not. He could help himself by releasing the ball a little bit higher and adding a little more elevation to his jump shot. Casspi made some nice drives to the basket, and does a good job controlling himself in the paint. On one drive he went left all the way to the basket, and brought the ball back to the right side and made a layup right under the defender’s arm. Omri displays good instincts when it comes to basketball, but will need to learn how to operate better within the flow of an offense.

Kenny Adeleke is still adjusting to the international game, though he played well. He was a force on the offensive glass, where he collected 5 offensive rebounds, and turned many of them into easy baskets. Adeleke has clearly been working on his game away from the hoop, and was making jumpers from all over the court during warm-ups. Unfortunately, he has not translated this improvement to the free throw line quite yet. Adeleke fouled out with 5:17 left in the game, and had 12 points to go with his 11 rebounds.

Boo Davis displayed dynamic scoring ability at times, but was very streaky throughout the game. He shot the ball well from long distance, and scored a lot in transition as well. He is undersized for a 2-guard, and average athletically, but has potential to be a good player overseas with further consistency.

Maccabi vs Ashkelon

Maccabi struggled early in a game that was expected to be a blowout, and the game was actually tied going into halftime. Marcus Hatten led Ashkelon with 16 first half points, and the Maccabi fans who made the trip were feeling uneasy. Strong play from Nikola Vujcic led Maccabi to an 8 point lead by the end of the third, and some hot three point shooting allowed them to coast to a 96-76 win.

Marcus Hatten, out of St. Johns, played very well for Ashkelon and kept them in the game for a long time. His dynamic scoring ability was on full display, as he got to the line 12 times. Hatten finished up with 24 points and 2 assists. It would be nice to see him playing at a higher level than the Israeli Premier League, because he is able to put on dominant performances whenever he wants, and is surely a Euroleague or ULEB Cup caliber player.

Rodney Buford was a key part of the Maccabi win. Even when the rest of the team was struggling, Buford was hitting from the outside. He hit 6 three pointers throughout the game, and looked like he was adjusting to the game. Like when he was in the NBA, Buford didn’t utilize his size and length as much this game, but when you’re shooting that well, there is really no need to. On the defensive end, Buford missed a couple rotations, and he still held up the ball movement on the offensive end a little more than necessary. Buford finished the game with 24 points on 8 of 13 from the field. He will be very effective this year if he can continue to shoot the long ball.

Will Bynum had another one of his games where he looks great at times, but out of control for stretches. He started the game by displaying some flashy passing ability, and picking up 3 assists in the first quarter. In the second quarter, he turned the ball over on 3 straight possessions, during a time in the game when there was 6 turnovers in a row overall. In the second half, Bynum started scoring the ball, and continued his hot shooting from the three point line. He was also able to draw 5 fouls, which led to 9 attempts from the free throw line. Bynum finished the game with 18 points on 5 of 9 from the field, and 5 assists. He also turned the ball over 6 times, making it the second consecutive game where his turnovers are greater than assists. It will be interesting to see as the season goes on if he can continue to shoot the ball well from the outside, and will finally be able to cut down on his turnovers.

Nikola Vujcic rested the entire first half, but they looked to him in the third quarter with the team not playing well. Vujcic responded very well, and displayed a plethora of skills that make him one of the top big men in the Euroleague. Maccabi ran several plays where they isolated Vujcic on the block, and he scored, got to the line, or found an open man each time. It is fun to watch somebody as well rounded and fundamental as Vujcic work against weaker competition. He finished the game with 9 points, 7 rebounds and 2 assists on a perfect 4 of 4 from the field in 16 minutes.

Lior Eliyahu didn’t have a great game, though he really didn’t get the minutes to redeem himself after a few mistakes. He had some trouble catching the ball in this game, and by the time he gained control, the defense had already adjusted and taken away his scoring opportunity. He continued to make some very nice cuts to the basket, and once again was in the right place at the right time. He also made a couple jumpers from around 17 feet, despite his shaky shooting stroke. Eliyahu played well on the defensive end, and was able to hold his position in the paint against bigger players. He finished the game with 8 points on 4 of 8 from the field, and 4 rebounds in 20 minutes.

Yotam Halperin continued to show flashes of being an NBA player, but is unable to put it together consistently over long stretches of time. He did a good job moving the ball and finding open teammates, but didn’t create off the dribble like he has potential to. His outside shot wasn’t falling, and his only baskets came off easy looks inside. Halperin seems very passive on the court, and doesn’t play with any type of fire or emotion. He put up 9 points on 3 of 7 shooting with 6 assists in 34 minutes. If he could ever play to his potential, Halperin would be a nice rotation guy in the NBA.

Noel Felix is still struggling to adapt to the new type of game. He is not using his body well right now, and lost possession of 4 rebounds to players who were just trying harder. On the defensive end, Felix is clueless when it comes to defending the pick and roll. There were several occasions where he got in the way of a teammate trying to recover to the ball handler after the pick. On the offensive end he was able to elevate for a nice dunk at the hoop, but missed on three other looks inside. Felix has the talent to be a good player for Maccabi, but he will need to make a lot of adjustments at this point.

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